A new exotic invasive fly, Atherigona reversura, also known as the bermudagrass stem maggot, has been discovered damaging bermudagrass pasture and hay fields in Georgia.
This is the first record of this species in North America and may represent a new serious pest of bermudagrass forage crops and turf.
Bermudagrass is the most widely grown grass for forage, pasture and hay production in the coastal plain region of the Southeastern U.S. It is also widely used as a turfgrass in the Southern U.S. and around the world.
Bermudagrass represents the bulk of Georgia-grown sod, a crop worth an estimated $116 million in 2009.
In July of 2010, extensive damage to bermudagrass pastures was reported by county agents in southern Georgia. A native of Asia, A. reversura represents a new exotic invasive species. Subsequent reports in August and September revealed that the pest is now found throughout southern Georgia, and in northern Florida and parts of Alabama and South Carolina.
Several on-farm trials with registered insecticides found that a single application only reduced infestations for a short time. UGA entomologists also observed a noticeable difference in damage levels among bermudagrass varieties.
Ongoing laboratory and field research studies this coming season will examine the biology and methods of control of this new bermudagrass pest.