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.

Prerequisites: TURF 235, CHEM 101 or CHEM 110


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

Work Phone: 814-865-1138
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Educational/Professional Background

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 pair 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: 978-0801435089
Vittum, P. J., Villani, M. G., & Tashiro, H. (1999). Turfgrass Insects of the United States and Canada (2nd ed.). Comstock Pub. Associates.

ISBN: 978-1575040233
Potter, D. A. (1998). Destructive Turfgrass Insects: Biology, Diagnosis, and Control (1st ed.). Wiley.

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.


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 covers 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

Grading Criteria
Requirement Point Value
Orientation Quiz 5
Best 13 of 14 Quizzes 130
Predator/Prey Lab 20
Insecticide Labels Lab 20
IPM Letter 20
Exam 1 75
Exam 2 75
Final Exam 100
TOTAL: 445
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.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the 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.

Accessibility Information

  • Accessibility statement for Canvas.


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Support Services

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

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Penn State Policies

Log-In Policy

Students are expected to log-in regularly to keep up-to-date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class for each semester and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

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Read the Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's Academic Integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

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All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

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In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.