Species Profile: Nine-Banded Armadillo

Scientific Name: Dasypus novemcinctus
Common Name(s): nine-banded armadillo, long nosed armadillo, Hoover hog, hillbilly speed bump

Nine-banded armadillos are medium sized mammals with a hard armor covering their body, head, and tail. Their armor does not cover their stomach or inside of their legs, instead, they have tough skin and course hair. Armadillos are tan-gray in color and often look blotchy. Nine armored bands surround the middle of their back and tails appear segmented. They have a long, skinny head and pointed nose. Claws on their front middle toes are longer for digging. Scent glands are found on the eyelids, nose, and feet. Armadillos weigh 5.5-14 lbs., are 25-42“ long, and stand 6-10” tall. It is possibly the most easily identified mammal in North America.

The nine-banded armadillo is native to South America. Over time it migrated north to Mexico. Prior to 1850, there were very few to no armadillos north of the Rio Grande. After the colonization of Texas, some factors limiting natural armadillo migration were alleviated: lack of river crossings and hunting by native peoples. Since 1850, the nine-banded armadillo has rapidly expanded its range to include nearly all the southeastern United States, and has been reported as far north as southern Nebraska. They are unique in that they are a natural invasive species, as opposed to being artificially transported by people. It is thought that they are approaching the northern extent of their potential range as they cannot tolerate long periods of extreme cold.

Armadillos are most known for digging. They are considered a nuisance to homeowners and farmers because they can destroy lawns and fields when digging for burrows and searching for food. Other species like skunks, rats, and snakes benefit from abandoned burrows. Armadillos will not survive in areas where the soil is too hard to dig so soft soil is essential for burrows and finding food. An armadillo may maintain up to 12 burrows up to 25 ft. long throughout its territory.

Armadillos are nocturnal and normally solitary. They mark their territory with urine, feces, and excretions from scent glands. Males can become aggressive during breeding to keep other males out of their home range in order to increase their chances of mating with a female. Kicking and chasing is typical territorial behavior. Armadillos are very slow, but when in danger can run away quickly in short bursts. Their eyesight is poor, so they rely on their keen sense of smell.

Nine-banded armadillos are insectivores, consuming grubs, beetles, ants, and termites. They use their sense of smell to detect insects through up to 8” of soil. Their sticky tongues help remove insects from soil. Occasionally they will eat bird eggs or berries.

Reproduction is very unusual in this species. Mating occurs from July-August with one egg being fertilized. Implantation is delayed for 3-4 months while the egg divides twice creating 4 identical quadruplets. The young are born in March each weighing about 3 oz. Baby armadillos nurse for 3 months in burrows before they emerge to forage on their own. Young will leave their mothers between six months and one year of age and become sexually mature soon afterwards. Armadillos can reproduce rapidly, perpetuating their status as a nuisance. Natural predators include coyotes, black bears, cougars, bobcats, and large birds; however, cars are responsible for more deaths than predators in many areas.

Special Notes:
Here in Bella Vista, nine-banded armadillos are normally seen at dusk or dead on roadways. Cars are one of the biggest threats to armadillos. Many are killed even when drivers attempt to straddle them because of their propensity to jump when startled. They often dig in yards and will most likely run away if threatened. Armadillo activity in lawns is often a sign of high numbers of grubs which could cause damage themselves if left untreated. Natural treatments for grub control are available. It is often believed that all armadillos can roll into a ball, however, the nine-banded armadillo cannot.

The armadillo has been identified as a carrier of leprosy. This is true, but transmission to humans can only occur by direct contact and is rare. They should only be handled with a gloved hand and hands should be thoroughly washed afterwards. The meat is said to be very good tasting like pork. During the Great Depression, people were encouraged to eat them, hence the term “Hoover hog”. Bon Appetit!

Tanyard Creek Practice Facility Improvement

As it is now the official beginning of winter, we understand the importance of improving one’s golf game to prepare for spring! Some improvements have been made to Tanyard Creek Practice Facility that we hope you all will enjoy!

You will notice that the old yardage signs have been removed and replaced with colored poles. On top of each pole is a flag coordinated to the same color of the pole. With this, you will now be able to see which direction the wind is blowing as you try to dial-in your golf shots.

On the range tee there is a sign that shows the yardage to each target. This sign has exchangeable numbers that will show how far it is from the designated daily tee area to each target.

We really want you to have an enjoyable experience by replicating shots you take on the golf course and translating those to the practice area. Therefore, there are painted targets around every colored pole that will replicate a golf course putting green.

The combination of the new colored poles with flags, painted target greens, and an exchangeable yardage sign will give you an outstanding visual, as if you were on the golf course.

We hope you enjoy the new improvements and we hope they help you lower your score this coming golf season.

Understanding Frost Delays

When frost is present, golf course superintendents delay play until the frost has melted. This is done to prevent damage that affects the quality of the playing surface which could result in a very expensive repair.

Frost is basically frozen dew that has crystallized on the grass, making it hard and brittle. A grass blade is actually 90 percent water, therefore it also freezes. Because of the short mowing height and fragile nature of the turf, putting greens are most affected by frost. Walking on frost-covered greens causes the plant to break and cell walls to rupture, thereby losing its ability to function normally. When the membrane is broken, much like an egg, it cannot be put back together.

Golfers who ignore frost delays will not see immediate damage. The proof generally comes 48-72 hours later as the plant leaves turn brown and die. The result is thinning of the putting green surface and a weakening of the plant. The greens, in turn, become more susceptible to disease and weeds. While it may not appear to be much of an issue if a foursome begins play early on frost covered greens, consider the number of footprints that may occur on any given hole— by one person is approximately 60. Multiply that by 18 holes with an average of 200 rounds per day and the result is 216,000 footprints on a green in a day or 6,480,000 in a month.

As golf enthusiasts, superintendents do not like to delay play, but we are most concerned about turf damage, cost of repairs and quality of conditions for the golfer. Frost also creates a hardship on our facilities staff as all course preparations are put on hold until thawing occurs.

Call the Frost Line at (479) 855-5123 or check “Today’s Play” on the Tee Times page to see if tee times have been pushed back due to frost.  This area will also give you information on any cart restrictions or closures.

Golf Course Weather Closure Standards

The golf course superintendents shall have the authority to delay opening or closing their golf courses at any time. However, it will be a requirement that if delays or closings are necessary, the superintendent must notify the Pro Shop and golf maintenance coordinator.

Superintendents must report course conditions/closures to golf course maintenance coordinator and Pro Shop no later than one hour before first regular tee time. He or she must also stay in contact with Pro Shop on a regular basis throughout this same timeframe to keep them updated on course conditions.

During the winter months, we will continue to use the temperature as a guide, however, there are situations other than temperature that may dictate course delays or closures. The target temperature for automatic course closure is 35 degrees.

If the Weather Channel forecast for zip code 72714 is forecasted to be a high of 35 degrees or less for the entire day, then courses will close for that day. If it is forecasted to be above 35 degrees, then it becomes the golf course superintendent’s decision as to whether course opening will be delayed, or course closure is necessary.

It is extremely important that each superintendent take into consideration the importance of serving our members.

Winter Covering of Ultradwarf Bermudagrass Greens – Freeze Protection

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Cold temperatures can damage bermudagrass. History has shown that unprotected bermudagrass putting greens are often the first victim of an all-bermudagrass golf course to succumb to colder temperatures. Fortunately, turf covers can dramatically decrease the chance of winter injury. Golf courses with ultradwarf putting greens in the transition zone (like NW Arkansas) need covers and must deploy them when conditions warrant.

We purchased green covers as part of the overall greens conversion project at Scotsdale last year. We also have covers that we have been using since the installation of the ultradwarf bermudagrass greens at Brittany. We will utilize the following guidelines this winter at Scotsdale and Brittany. These guidelines are based on our past experience with the greens at Brittany, guidelines provided to us by our ultradwarf bermudagrass supplier, Champion Turf Farm, and recommendations from the USGA Agronomist, Chris Hartwiger, who visits our facility each year.

Since our Scotsdale greens are only one year old we will be utilizing a more conservative approach again this winter, deploying covers when the temperatures are forecast to be below 27 degrees and trending down. It will be necessary to close the course the day before since it requires a minimum of 6 hours to complete deployment on all 18 holes plus putting and nursery greens. Once temperatures allow for the removal of tarps, an additional day will be required to remove the tarps as well. We will give as much advanced notice as possible to the Pro Shop personnel, Golf Operations Office and on Today’s Play here.

Painting the Greens

Over the past several days the golf maintenance staff at Scotsdale has started the process of “painting” the bermudagrass greens. Although there are some turf health advantages to the painting process the primary reason is to give the golfer a better perspective of the green surfaces during the winter dormant months. The material used is actually a mixture of green pigment and paint. When the first application is sprayed before the turf goes completely dormant some of the pigment gets into the plant and along with the paint provides a darker green and prolongs the time between reapplication. It takes about 3 tanks and several days to complete all the greens and at least one additional application will be required sometime in February.

Golf Course Greens Aeration Begins

The Golf Maintenance Department will aerate greens on all the bent grass golf courses this month.

“By core aerating greens, water and air movement are allowed throughout the greens profile. Aerating the greens will promote the overall health of the courses’ turf”, Golf Course Maintenance Manager Keith Ihms said. “Aeration also works toward removing thatch and building stronger root systems”.

The main purpose of pulling cores is to manage the thatch layer on the greens; thatch layer is mostly made up of dying and un-decomposed leaf and grass material. “By pulling cores we are removing some of that material and preventing it from building up to an unacceptable level”, he said.

Thatch causes the greens to become soft and spongy, which can make for poor putting conditions. When thatch gets to this point it also can become a problem dealing with the other issues it causes, such as fungus growth, mower scalping and “localized dry spots,” which will not absorb and retain moisture.

“Aerating creates openings in the surface for water and nutrients to be absorbed, as well as the sand that will be used to smooth the putting surface and fill in voids and amend the green profile”, Ihms said.

A second sand topdressing will be necessary a week or so after aeration to help fill in aeration holes and smooth the surface.

Weather permitting, aeration and maintenance dates and locations will be:

  • Sept. 11 – Kingswood Golf Course will be closed for aeration.
  • Sept. 12 – Kingswood Golf Course will be closed until 11 a.m. for maintenance.
  • Sept. 12 – Berksdale Golf Course will be closed for aeration.
  • Sept. 13 – Berksdale Golf Course will be closed until 11 a.m. for maintenance.
  • Sept. 13 – Highlands Golf Course will be closed for aeration.
  • Sept. 14 – Highlands Golf Course will be closed until 11 a.m. for maintenance.
  • Sept. 25 – Dogwood Golf Course will be closed for aeration.
  • Sept. 26 – Dogwood Golf Course will be closed until 11 a.m. for maintenance.
  • Sept. 26 – Bella Vista Country Club Golf Course will be closed for aeration.
  • Sept. 27 – Bella Vista Country Club Golf Course will be closed until 11 a.m. for maintenance.

Monarchs at Berksdale

Monarch butterflies are “the King” of their winged world and a flagship species for overall prairie health.  Sadly, a 90% decline in the Eastern overwintering population was recorded between 1995 and 2014. While several factors may be contributing, the wide scale eradication of the “weeds” essential to the monarch lifecycle has been devastating.  Adult monarchs may feed on a wide variety of nectar sources, but their caterpillar stage ONLY feeds on milkweed (Asclepias) species.

Berksdale Superintendent Reed Holly has been seeding milkweed and other native prairie plants for several years.  Assistant Superintendent Wendy Barnes has been identifying and protecting increased areas of wildlife habitat in conjunction with her Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program efforts.  Two years ago, a single adult and a single larva monarch were noted.  This summer, patches of milkweed became well established and numerous adult butterflies have been spotted.  This September, we are pleased to announce a veritable explosion of monarch caterpillars at various locations around Berksdale.

For more information, you may visit www.monarch-butterfly.comwww.fws.gov/savethemonarch/, or contact wendyb@bvvpoa.com.

(Article contributed by Berksdale Assistant, Wendy Barnes)