Sex instead of pesticides?
Hudson’s environmental committee is hoping to convince the three local golf courses to participate in developing a sex attractant for the bugs that lay the eggs that become grass-devouring white grubs.
They’re hoping the Whitlock, Falcon and Como courses could be the driving force behind a study to develop pheromone traps to kill the European chafer as a means of reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides.
Golf courses currently rely on imidacloprid (trade name Merit) to combat the beetle whose pupae plague golf courses by weakening the grass, causing thinning, yellowing and scattered dead patches. Hungry predators also dig holes looking for the fat white protein packages.
The European Union is banning imidacloprid and two similar neonicotinoid pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam to protect at-risk bee populations and the Sierra Club of Canada is asking the federal government to follow suit.
One of the committee members who met with representatives of Hudson’s three golf clubs in March to discuss the use of pesticides was Hudson resident Christopher Buddle, an associate professor in the department of natural resource sciences at McGill University. He brought up the idea of traps which lure aroused beetles with their own natural pheromones, then captures them. He suggested the golf courses lobby the provincial government through the l’industrie québécoise du golf for a grant to do research and develop the traps.
“They [golf course representatives] seemed interested when we talked about it,” says environmental agent Jennifer Dumoulin.
She goes on to explain why this form of pest control would work best, if only it could be developed.
“The pheromones are specific for that type of insect and don’t have an impact on other insects, [but] you have to research what pheromone will attract them,” explains Dumoulin. “It’s more ecologically friendly and makes less of impact on the environment.”
She agrees the bee population is at risk and that pesticides pose part of the problem, but she doesn’t think golf courses are the sole perpetrators.
“I don’t know if I could state for a fact that stopping golf courses from using pesticides would solve our problem.
For instance, it’s still common practice to use pesticides for agriculture and everyday bug spray has an effect on the bee population.“When you buy Raid to get rid of ants in your house, it has an impact on the bees that come to pollinate the flowers right next to your window,” says Dumoulin.
The environment committee recommended Hudson’s council encourage and support the effort of the local golf clubs to lobby the Quebec government to fund the research of pheromone traps as a way of managing white grub, given the burden pesticides place on the bee population. The committee suggests the group lobby both the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) and the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP).
Mike Bailey and Marco Jetté from Whitlock Golf and Country Club, Ronald Hewitt from Falcon Golf Club and Luc Villeneuve from the Como Golf Club were all present, according to the records of the meeting.