Turf and Ornamentals Pest Control

Category Definition Category 3 Turf and Ornamentals Pest Control


This category is for applicators using or supervising the use of restricted use pesticides to control pests in maintenance and production of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, and turf. Performing "turf and ornamental pest control activities" includes, but is not limited to, the use of any pesticide with the intent to prevent, destroy, repel or otherwise mitigate any pest of publicly or privately owned turf or ornamental plantings for compensation or as a government employee on the property of another, including the installation of devices. Turf and ornamental pest control activities also includes the soliciting, advertising, or making of sales proposals in any form for any services involving the use of pesticides or devices with the intent to prevent, destroy, repel, or otherwise mitigate any pest of turf or ornamental plantings. (SCPCA 2006)
  1. The application of pesticides to ornamental plants in a greenhouse or nursery is not a turf and ornamental pest control activity regulated by the SCPCA.
  2. The installation of irrigation systems and similar devices, including chemigation systems, is not a turf and ornamental pest control activity regulated by the SCPCA.
  3. The application of fertilizers not mixed with pesticides or herbicides is not a turf and ornamental pest control activity regulated by the SCPCA, nor is the spray or broadcast application of grass seed, mulch, or mixtures not containing materials registered as pesticides or for which pesticidal claims are made.
  4. Maintenance activities such as mowing, trimming, watering, and landscaping are not turf and ornamental pest control activities regulated by the SCPCA, even if claims of weed reduction or plant health and growth are made.
Beginning on January 1, 2006, a license will be required for applicators working in this category on someone else's property unless they are working under the supervision of someone who is properly licensed. Use of either a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) or a general use pesticide will require a license.  

Learning Objectives Category 3 Turf and Ornamentals Pest Control


Unit 1 Environmental Safety
  • Explain the importance of groundwater
  • Describe management practices to prevent groundwater contamination.
  • List ways to protect endangered species, bees and wildlife from pesticide exposure.
  • List ways to help control drift and vaporization.
Unit 2 Health Hazards
  • Discuss pesticide entry into the body.
  • Describe major provisions of the Worker Protection Standard.
  • Explain re-entry intervals.
  • List ways to keep equipment effective.
  • List employer responsibilities for personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • List important rules of public safety.
Unit 3 Turfgrass Pest Control
  • Name factors to consider when planning a turf management program.
  • Describe the kinds of information needed for proper insect detection and control.
  • Describe sampling techniques used to identify and diagnose pest problems.
  • List ways to avoid insect resistance to chemicals.
  • Explain general types of turfgrass weeds.
  • Describe methods of control for annual, broadleaf and perennial grasses.
  • List factors to consider when developing a disease management program.
Unit 4 Ornamental Pest Control
  • Identify factors of ornamental plant management and explain how they help plants remain healthy and growing
  • List signs of insect and mite presence and methods of inspection and control.
  • List steps of disease diagnosis and methods of control.
  • Describe methods of control for ornamental weeds.
Unit 5 Major Pests within South Carolina
  • Distinguish between above and below ground turf insects and give examples of each.
  • Distinguish between grassy and broadleaf turf weeds and give examples of each.
  • Distinguish between above and below ground turf diseases and give examples of each.
  • Distinguish between leafchewing and plant-sucking ornamental insects and give examples of each.
  • Distinguish between broadleaf and grassy ornamental weeds and give examples of each.
Unit 6 Pesticide Classifications and Formulations
  • Discuss the difference between selective and nonselective, contact and systemic, and preemergence and postemergence.
  • Know what factors to consider when selecting a formulation.
  • Discuss characteristics of liquid formulations and dry formulations and give examples of both.
Unit 7 Application Equipment and Technology
  • List the factors to consider when selecting application equipment.
  • List the advantages and disadvantages of different types of ground and aerial equipment.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of dry formulations.
  • Discuss aspects of orchard sprayers.
Unit 8 Equipment Calibration
  • Identify what factors to consider when calibrating your equipment.
  • Know when to recalibrate equipment.
  • Explain how to calibrate hand, power and air-carrier sprayers.
Unit 9 Interiorscape Pest Control
  • List some of the special precautions and difficulties of living plants in indoor settings.
  • Discuss the main factors affecting the plant's foliage.
  • Describe what factors affect the root system environment.
  • Describe the three steps involved in diagnosing a problem.
  • List steps to prevent, control or cure the problem.
  • List several common diseases and describe symptoms of each.
  • List several common mites and insects and describe symptoms of each.
  • List various biological controls.
  • Discuss chemical controls for interiorscapes.
Unit 10 Pest Control in Greenhouses
  • Differentiate between sucking insects and chewing insects.
  • Differentiate between common diseases of greenhouse crops.
  • List ways to practice integrated pest management.
  • Discuss different formulations available for pesticides.
  • Describe applicator and worker safety methods.

Test Your Knowledge Category 3 Turf and Ornamentals Pest Control


Unit 1 Environmental Safety

Q. Describe one of the largest urban sources of groundwater contamination.
A. Water pollution from runoff of paved areas is one of the largest urban sources of groundwater contamination, as any chemical sprayed near, or spilled on, paving materials has great potential to be carried to the water source.

Q. What major factors determine whether a pesticide is likely to reach groundwater when applied in a turf and ornamental setting?
A. Four major factors determine whether a pesticide will also move through the soil and contaminate groundwater: properties of pesticides, properties of the soil, conditions of the site and management practices.

Q. Where does most groundwater contamination occur?
A. Most groundwater contamination occurs at the mixing/loading site. Avoid all spills, especially near wells or other water sources.

Q. What four main safeguards are farmers required to install on chemigation?
A. An interlock must connect the chemical injection equipment with the irrigation pump. There must be a check valve between the irrigation pump and the point of injection of the chemical. A vacuum breaker must be behind the check valve. A low-pressure drain must be behind the check valve.

Q. Name ways in which birds might be exposed to a pesticide being applied to turf or ornamentals.
A. Birds may come into contact with a chemical through direct spraying, by contact with recently treated soil, turf or foliage, by consuming granules or pellets that are mistaken as food or by bathing in a puddle containing insecticide. Birds and other vertebrate animals can also be killed if they feed on a poisoned pest animal, or plant part, or are the unintended victim of baits.

Q. When do most bee poisonings occur?
A. Most bee poisonings occur when pesticides are applied to blooming plants on which bees are present.

Q. What are ways to reduce drift problems when using air blast sprayers in orchards?
A. Be sure the machine is properly adjusted to direct the spray into the tree canopy. On most sprayers, one or more of the upper nozzles will not deliver spray to the tree and should be shut off. Use only the nozzles that actually deliver spray to the tree.

Unit 2 Health Hazards

Q. Describe how IPM programs pose minimal hazards to people and the environment.
A. IPM programs involve selective use of pesticides, careful timing of application, combining chemical control with natural enemies and cultural practices. IPM usually requires fewer pesticides, and the pesticides used are generally less toxic than pesticides used in the past.

Q. How should gloves be worn when spraying overhead?
A. If you need to raise your arms up when spraying, be sure gloves are worn outside the sleeves. Tape gloves to sleeves to be certain no pesticide runs down the inside of the gloves when arms are lowered.

Q. What procedure should be followed when eyes are harmed by pesticides?
A. If a pesticide is splashed into the eye, immediately wash it with a gentle stream of clean running water for 15 minutes while holding the eyelid open. A few seconds delay could increase the extent of injury. Do not use chemicals or drugs in wash water, as they may increase injury.

Q. What is meant by Restricted Entry Interval (REI)?
A. REI is a period of time after application of a pesticide during which worker entry to the treated area is restricted.

Q. What are some employer responsibilities when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required by the product labeling?
A. Employers are responsible for providing appropriate PPE to each worker, proper cleaning and maintenance of PPE, ensuring each handler wears PPE correctly, preventing use of contaminated PPE and taking actions to prevent heat stress.

Q. What practices help keep respirators effective?
A. Discard cartridges, canisters and filter pads when breathing becomes difficult, when you notice a pesticide odor or at the time interval specified by the manufacturer. Write the date on the cartridge when it is first used. Wash the face piece in detergent and water, rinse it thoroughly and dry in a well-ventilated area.

Unit 3 Turfgrass Pest Control

Q. Besides pesticides, what are other turf management practices?
A. A successful pest management program includes careful soil preparation, proper turfgrass selection and establishment, as well as selecting the right mowing height, watering regimes, fertilization levels and thatch control.

Q. What determines the correct mowing height and correct intervals?
A. Determine the correct mowing height and correct intervals by the species of grass and use of turf. A good rule of thumb for mowing heights is never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade.

Q. How can thatch reduce the effectiveness of pesticides?
A. Thatch may provide favorable environments for disease and insects and may reduce the effectiveness of pesticides by binding with the pesticide.

Q. What type of watering should be avoided (except during turfgrass establishment) because it promotes shallow roots systems, which can lead to increased incidence of weeds and diseases?
A. Avoid light, frequent waterings (except during establishment of turfgrass) because they promote shallow root systems, which lead to an increased incidence of weeds and diseases.

Q. Why is turf grown in shady areas usually less vigorous? What are some solutions?
A. Turf grown in shady areas usually is less vigorous, spotty and more prone to invading weed competition because of lower light levels. If repeated plantings do not end the problem, consider replacing grass with shade tolerant ground cover, wood chips or decorative stones. Increase air movement by pruning trees and shrubs.

Q. What method uses water to sample insects associated with the thatch layer?
A. Flotation involves using a large can filled with water and placed in turf where insects are suspected.

Q. What kind of herbicide is applied to growing weeds before they have emerged from the soil?
A. Preemergence herbicides are applied before seeds begin to germinate early in the spring/summer to control summer annuals and late summer/fall for controlling winter annuals.

Q. What is the most effective, long-term solution to minimizing weed problems?
A. Proper turf maintenance is the best way to minimize weed problems, which are usually the result of poor turfgrass management. The most common causes of poor turf are improper mowing, watering and fertilizing, and compacted soil.

Unit 4 Ornamental Pest Control

Q. What kind of weather should be avoided when pruning plants and why?
A. Avoid pruning plants during wet weather because diseases may be spread.

Q. When is pruning a good method of insect control?
A. Pruning can be a useful method of insect control if an infestation is detected early and is restricted to certain parts of the plant.

Q. Why is control of galls not recommended under most circumstances?
A. Most galls are produced by insects that move to trees as new growth develops and can only be controlled by insecticides which cover leaves when eggs are being deposited. Once a gall is formed, damage is done, and pesticides will not control the pest.

Q. When is the most effective time to control armored scales?
A. Application timing is best after eggs have hatched and insects are in the "crawler" stage. During the crawler stage, the insect is not under the protective shell and can be controlled using insecticides. Once the crawler stops moving and secretes a protective covering over itself, however, control becomes more difficult. You may have to look underneath shells to determine if crawlers have emerged.

Q. What are some ways to avoid pesticide resistance?
A. Use pesticides only when necessary, spot treat only infested areas and rotate chemicals or chemical classes.

Q. In what areas is powdery mildew most common?
A. Powdery mildew is most common in dense, shady areas where air circulation is poor. Warm, dry days and cool, damp nights favor disease development.

Q. What are ways to prevent root rot?
A. Provide plants with good growing conditions. Avoid planting trees and shrubs that are susceptible to root rot in poorly drained areas, or in areas that receive excessive amounts of water, for example, under downspouts. Avoid over- or underwatering.

Q. What are methods of control for Verticillium wilt?
A. Once Verticillium wilt is suspected, water the tree immediately to prevent moisture stress. Remove dead branches by pruning. Clean and sanitize tools between cuts. Remove severely infected trees. Do not chip, compost or bury infected wood or plants. Avoid replanting the area with a susceptible tree or shrub, because the fungus is soilborne and can persist for years.

Unit 5 Major Pests within South Carolina

Q. What recommendations are made for chemical control of ants?
A. More reliable control of ants generally result when sprays are applied near dusk. Do not reenter the treated area until grass has dried. If using chemical control for ants, list ways to control ants.

Q. What types of damage are caused by mole crickets?
A. Mole crickets feed at night on roots of grass, and their burrowing also uproots seedlings and causes soil to dry out quickly.

Q. What is the host range for slime mold?
A. All turfgrasses, as well as associated grass weed species, are hosts of slime mold.

Q. Describe the cycle of Japanese beetles.
A. Insects overwinter as white grubs in soil. With the approach of warm spring temperatures, they move toward the soil surface and resume feeding on grass roots. Grubs become fully grown from late May through June and change to pupae in soil. Adults emerge from the soil from late June through July. After mating, females live 30-45 days and lay 40-60 eggs, usually in the soil.

Q. Describe a method of nonchemical control of daylily leaf streak.
A. A wider spacing of plants and management of overhead irrigation aid in control by allowing plant parts to dry. Clean up and destroy previous season's litter after first hard freeze. Select clean planting stock.

Q. What causes Botrytis Blight on Marigold?
A. Botrytis Blight on Marigold is caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, which occurs throughout South Carolina. In wet, cool weather the fungus will attack buds, opened flowers, stems and leaves.

Unit 6 Pesticide Classifications and Formulations

Q. What insecticide breaks down very slowly in the environment and is capable of being stored in the fat tissue of animals?
A. Organochlorines break down very slowly in the environment, and some are capable of being stored in the fat tissue of animals. Many of these chemicals are extremely toxic, while others are relatively nonpoisonous.

Q. What insecticides have the ability to act systemically?
A. Organphosphates are used to control insects and mites; some have the ability to act systemically.

Q. What insecticides are synthetic organic pesticides that are quite popular because they are highly effective, moderately priced and generally short-lived in the environment?
A. Carbamates are highly effective, moderately priced and generally short-lived in the environment.

Q. What insecticides affect the function of the central nervous system?
A. Most pyrethroids affect the function of the central nervous system, stimulating nerve cells to produce repetitive discharges and eventually causing paralysis.

Q. What kind of herbicides are designed to kill only specific targeted plants?
A. Selective herbicides are designed to kill only specific targeted plants, while nonselective herbicides kill all plants.

Q. What herbicide kills the plant parts to which it is applied?
A. Contact herbicide kills the plant parts to which it is applied.

Q. What kind of herbicides are absorbed by the roots or the above-ground parts of the plant and are translocated throughout the plant system?
A. Systemic herbicides, which are absorbed by the roots or the above-ground parts of the plant, are translocated throughout the plant system.

Q. Which formulations work well on outdoor turf and ornamentals, because they leave little visible residue?
A. Emulsifiable concentrates are adaptable to many different kinds of application equipment and work well on turf and ornamentals as well as on greenhouse plants.

Q. Which formulations are easy to use and unlikely to harm nontarget organisms?
A. Low concentration solutions are easy to use and are unlikely to harm nontarget organisms.

Unit 7 Application Equipment and Technology

Q. What kind of ground equipment cannot adequately cover or penetrate dense foliage because of low pressure and gallonage rate?
A. Low-pressure boom sprayers cannot adequately cover or penetrate dense foliage because of low pressure and gallonage rate.

Q. What kind of ground equipment can penetrate heavy vegetation and reach the tops of tall shade trees?
A. High-pressure sprayers are used for many different pest control jobs because they can penetrate heavy vegetation and can reach the tops of tall shade trees.

Q. What kind of ground equipment should only be used in calm weather?
A. Air blast sprayers can be used only in calm weather because of significant drift, and windy conditions interfere with the normal pattern of the sprayer.

Q. When using dry formulations, what kind of granular spreader applies coarse, dry particles in a precise pattern with little chance of drift?
A. Drop (gravity) spreaders are designed to apply coarse, uniformly sized, dry particles to soil, water and, in some cases, foliage. Drop spreaders are generally more precise than rotary spreaders and deliver a better pattern.

Q. What type of granular spreader applies coarse, dry particles quickly, but with the chance of drift?
A. Rotary (centrifugal) spreaders cover a wide swath and so cover an area faster than drop spreaders.

Q. What kind of nozzles are used primarily when penetration is essential for effective insect and disease control and when drift is not a major concern?
A. Hollow-cone nozzles (disc and core type) are used primarily when plant foliage penetration is essential for effective insect and disease control and when drift is not a major concern.

Q. What kind of nozzles can be used when better penetration of dense foliage is needed?
A. Twin flat spray nozzles are used because their two angles of spray give better penetration of dense foliage.

Q. What operational technique should be used in orchard spraying when wind velocities are so high that the spray pattern is bent?
A. Use the head/tail wind technique by spraying on rows at right angles to the wind when spray pattern is bent and coverage is not complete.

Unit 8 Equipment Calibration

Q. When should you recalibrate your equipment?

A. Recalibrate your equipment:

  • anytime you change pesticides or location
  • if the equipment has not been used for a long time
  • if the equipment has been used regularly and may be experiencing wear and tear
  • anytime you change parts, such as nozzles or hoses

Q. When using power sprayers, what variables affect the amount of spray mixture that is applied per acre or per 1,000 sq. ft.?
A. Nozzle flow rate, ground speed and spray width per nozzle affect the amount of spray mixture that is applied per acre or per 1,000 sq. ft.

Q. What is the first step in calibrating equipment?
A. The first step in calibrating equipment is to determine the amount of pesticide needed to adequately cover the target area.

Unit 9 Interiorscape Pest Control

Q. What are ways to make pest control safer in indoor public areas?
A. Ways to make pest control safer in public areas include removing plants and treating them elsewhere and limiting pesticide applications by using beneficials.

Q. What are the three general steps of diagnosis?
A. Diagnosis of a problem consists of three steps: perceiving a problem, determining the cause or causes and planning a solution.

Q. What pathogen produces a multitude of spores that function like plant seeds?
A. Most fungi produce many spores that function like plant seeds.

Q. On what ornamentals are whiteflies most common?
A. Indoors, whiteflies are most likely to be found on poinsettia, fuchsia, chrysanthemum or other flowering plants brought into the location for color.

Unit 10 Pest Control in Greenhouses

Q. What is essential to an IPM strategy?
A. In order for an IPM strategy to be successful, early detection and accurate identification of pests are essential.

Q. What kind of management provides a practical, economical and environmentally appropriate way to control pests?
A. Integrated Pest Management provides a practical, economical, and environmentally appropriate way to control pests.

Q. Why should greenhouse workers be discouraged from wearing yellow clothing?
A. Discourage greenhouse workers from wearing yellow clothing, as some insects are attracted to the color yellow and may be carried on the clothing to another areas.

Q. What unique risks of exposure do applicators in greenhouses face?
A. Some of these are working in confined spaces, working with closely spaced or overhead plants and working with pesticides that may react differently in greenhouses than outdoors (for example, sprays may dry more slowly).

Q. What is the safest way to spray as you walk forward in the greenhouse?
A. Apply the pesticide by walking completely into the row and spray while backing out.

Selected Web Sites The following are web links containing information pertaining to Category 3 Turf and Ornamental Pest Control


Resources found at Clemson University
  1. Environmental Horticulture Greenhouse Production Program
  2. Environmental Horticulture Nursery Production Program
  3. Environmental Horticulture Turfgrass Program
  4. Regulatory Services Department of Pesticide Regulation
  5. Extension Pesticide Information Program
  6. Extension Home and Garden Information Center
  7. Extension Pesticide Information Program links to pesticide labels, MSDSheets, and chemical fact sheets
  8. Extension Pesticide Information Program links to listings and information about restricted use pesticides (RUPs).
Other South Carolina Resources on the Web
  1. South Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association
  2. South Carolina Landscape and Turfgrass Association
  3. Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association
Other selected resources found on the Web
  1. Lawn Irrigation Sprinkler Requirements in SC -Bureau of Water, SCDHEC, 6/12/00
  2. Temperature Effects on Storage of Greenhouse, Ornamental and Turf Pesticides -University of Missouri Extension Publication IPM1012 by Fred Fishel. Lists storage temperature label statements for many fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides. (updated Apr 2002)