Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment



First Advisor

Dr. Daniel A. Potter


Turfgrass settings, including lawns, golf courses, and sports fields, support many beneficial invertebrates that provide important ecosystem services. These non-target organisms and their associated predation, decomposition, and pollination services can be disrupted by the use of certain insecticides. I compared the ecotoxicity of representatives from three major turf insecticide groups, the neonicotinoids, premix formulations, and the anthranilic diamides, in lab and field realistic settings in order to inform industry initiatives towards environmental sustainability.

In lab and field bioassays clothianidin, a neonicotinoid, and a premix clothianidin/pyrethroid spray were acutely toxic to beneficial insects. Populations of predators, springtails, and earthworms, as well as parasitism, predation, and decomposition rates were all reduced. In contrast, chlorantraniliprole, a novel anthranilic diamide with a similar spectrum of pests controlled, had no apparent impact on natural enemies, decomposers, or ecosystem services. This newer class is a good fit for industry initiatives to use relatively less toxic pesticides, with the caveat that golf course superintendents may see secondary pest outbreaks of ants and earthworms.

Bumble bee colonies exposed to clothianidin-treated white clover for two weeks suffered acute effects including increased mortality of workers and decreases in the number of honeypots constructed in the hive. When hives were exposed to clothianidin treated clover for six days and then allowed to develop naturally over six weeks they exhibited delayed weight gain and produced no new queens. Colonies exposed to chlorantraniliprole-treated flowers suffered no observable adverse effects. When treated blooms were mowed, colonies exposed to newly-formed blooms exhibited no ill effects. After a single mowing neonicotinoid residues in clover nectar were reduced from > 2000 ng/g, to < 10 ng/g. Residues of imidacloprid were also short-lived in guttation water.

Some 50 species of bees and other pollinators were collected from flowering white clover and dandelions in lawns across an urbanization gradient. Such weeds, an underappreciated resource for urban bees, could play a role in pollinator conservation if tolerated and not over-sprayed with broad-spectrum insecticides. Informing the public about the potential benefits these weeds could have for pollinators may help lead to more environmentally conscious management decisions.