All course information is listed within this syllabus.

ENT 317: Turfgrass Insect Pest Management (3 credits). Introduction to entomology and management of insect pests of cool- and warm-season turfgrass.

Concurrent: TURF 235


Instructor For ENT 317.

Ben McGraw, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Turfgrass Science

Department of Plant Science
243 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building
University Park, PA 16802

Phone (Office): 814-865-1138
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox


  • Ph.D., Entomology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 2009
  • M.S., Entomology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, 2005
  • B.S., Animal Science, University of Maine, Orono, ME, 1998

Research Interests

Entomology; Turfgrass Science, Biology and Ecology of Turfgrass Insects; Insect Behavior; Spatial Distribution of Populations; Biological Control; Entomopathogenic Nematodes

My research program focuses on understanding the biology and ecology of turfgrass insect populations to improve current management practices and develop novel, more sustainable management and monitoring programs. Given the heavy reliance on chemical controls in many managed turfgrass systems, little is known about the ecology of many soil arthropod pests and communities. I have used the annual bluegrass weevil (Listronotus maculicollis Kirby), a severe and widespread pest of intensely managed turfgrass, as a model to explore many questions that I have regarding insect ecology.

Course Overview

Turfgrass entomology requires a thorough understanding of insects and their relatives, an introduction to integrated pest (crop) management, a fundamental understanding of key pests of cool- and warm-season turfgrass, and an introduction to control strategies. Students will be invited to share their experiences with pest problems and methods of suppressing insects and mites through cultural, biorational, conventional, and alternative management strategies.

The course is broken down as follows:

  • insects and their relatives
  • insect structure and function
  • insect orders
  • integrated pest management (chemical, biological, cultural, genetic control)
  • turfgrass insect pest groups (leaf, stem/crown, root feeders)
  • social insects and nuisance pests
  • unintended consequences of chemical management

Course Objectives

Upon completion of ENT 317, students will have learned to:

  • Develop diagnostic skills that will enable class members to differentiate an insect from related members of the phylum Arthropoda (jointed-foot). Example: How can you distinguish a member of the class Diplopoda from the class Insecta? (Hint = how many pairs of legs, how many major body parts, etc.)
  • Develop skills that will allow you to implement an integrated pest management program at your place of employment.
  • Become familiar with the identification and life cycles of key pests of cool-season and warm-season turfgrass. Some of the key pests that you will be introduced to include the scarab white grub complex, annual bluegrass weevil, black cutworm, bluegrass billbug, hairy chinch bug, sod webworm, mole cricket complex, imported fire ants, fall armyworm, and other associated pests.
  • Develop an appreciation for beneficial nontarget organisms and how pesticides may affect their viability.

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

Most World Campus courses require that students purchase materials (e.g., textbooks, specific software, etc.). To learn about how to order materials, please see the Course Materials page. You should check the World Campus Course Catalog approximately 3–4 weeks before the course begins for a list of required materials.


ISBN: 978-1575040233
Potter, D. A. (1998). Destructive Turfgrass Insects: Biology, Diagnosis, and Control (1st ed.). Sleeping Bear Press / Ann Arbor Press.

ISBN: 978-1501747953
Vittum, P. J. (2020). Turfgrass Insects of the United States and Canada (3rd ed.). Cornell University Press. (E-Book option available)

You may purchase course materials from Barnes & Noble College (the bookstore used by Penn State's World Campus). For pricing and ordering information, please see the Barnes & Noble College website. Materials will be available at Barnes & Noble College approximately three weeks before the course begins. Alternatively, you may obtain these texts from other favorite bookstores. Be sure you purchase the edition/publication date listed.

Horticulture and Landscape Students

Cranshaw, W. (2004). Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs (2nd ed.). Princeton University Press.

E-Book Option

An online version of one or more of your texts is available at no cost as a Penn State Library E-Book. Some E-Books will only be available online, while others will be available to download in full or in part. You may choose to use the E-Book as an alternative to purchasing a physical copy of the text. You can access the E-Book by selecting Library Resources in the Course Navigation Menu, and then selecting the E-Reserves link. For questions or issues, you can contact the University Libraries Reserve Help (UL-RESERVESHELP@LISTS.PSU.EDU).


For each week of study (and to receive Penn State credit) each student will:

  • go through each module and read (assigned only) related readings
  • complete all homework assignments
  • complete all quizzes
  • complete all exams
  • complete the final exam

Homework Assignments

There will be 3 assignments throughout the course. Two assignments are "labs" and are designed to follow along with the control tactic modules. The last assignment ("IPM Letter") will require the student to synthesize all that they have learned in the class to develop a plan of attack for controlling a hypothetical pest outbreak. This will be in the form of a professional letter to a board or supervisor. Assignments are worth 20 points each.


There will be 14 quizzes throughout the course. Quizzes are not a group activity. Each quiz is worth 10 points. The lowest quiz grade at the end of the semester will be dropped.


Exams 1 and 2, which cover Modules 1–5 and Modules 6–12, respectively, are each worth 75 points. The final exam, which covers all modules (cumulative), is worth 100 points. Each exam is a 2-hour, online, closed-book exam.

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value Weight
Syllabus Quiz 5 1%
Quizzes (13 of 14) 130 31%
Homework Assignments 60 13%
Exams 150 33%
Final Exam 100 22%
TOTAL: 445 100%

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 83%
B- < 83% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 75%
C < 75% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate Courses for additional information.

Note: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

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Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

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