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Extension Entomology

Month: May 2016

Ticks

–Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Ticks are very active throughout the state, and have been for the past month.  The most commonly reported species has been the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis.

male am tick engorged am tick female am tick

The cool, humid weather over the past month has provided great conditions for tick development. These annoying, and potentially dangerous parasites have even been encountered in corn fields, which is unusual as they typically develop in more undisturbed areas of grasses, weeds, and other overgrown vegetation.  But, they are very good at finding hosts and getting the blood meal they require for development and reproduction.  For more information on ticks in Kansas, please visit: https://www.vet.k-state.edu/vhc/docs/ticks-in-kansas.pdf

Termites vs. Ants

–Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Termites and ants have both been swarming intermittently for the past couple of weeks.  Both species usually start swarming in April in Kansas, but the cooler April temperatures seemed to have delayed this behavior for about a month.

termite swarm

Please make positive identification of any insects you suspect may be a pest, but especially ants and termites because there is an enormous difference in the amount of damage potential of termites vs. ants.  Note that although carpenter ants may nest in wooden structures, they will not cause the same degree of damage as a termite infestation.  Because of this, the cost of management for a termite infestation is much greater than carpenter ants.  For more information on termites and ants, please visit:

Termites: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2887.pdf

Ants: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf722.pdf

Carpenter Bees

–Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

These large bumble bee look a-likes have been relatively active across the state in the last week.  The reproductive adults, especially the’ bald-faced’ males are quite noticeable around wooden structures.  These males are very territorial and their behavior of ‘dive-bombing’ any intruders, including humans and pets, is what draws attention to their presence.  These males are totally harmless as they do not have the ability to sting, and will die shortly after mating with females that emerge in the area.

carpenter vs bumble carpenter bee femalecarpenter bee male

Carpenter bees do not consume wood but do tunnel into untreated wooden structures to create nests for oviposition and larval development.  Please see the KSU, Carpenter Bees, for biology and management information:

http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2946.pdf

European Fruit Lecanium Scale: Adding a “Decorative Touch” to Bald Cypress

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

The European fruit lecanium scale (Parthenolecanium cornii) is quite noticeable on bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) twigs and branches. The damage associated with this scale, which depends on the extensiveness of the infestation, includes plant stunting and wilting. The European fruit lecanium scale is a soft scale, so honeydew (a sticky, clear liquid) will be produced during feeding. The honeydew serves as a substrate for black sooty mold and attracts ants. In addition, honeydew can drip onto vehicles parked underneath infested trees leaving unsightly residue.

The scales are dark brown, 1/8 to 1/4 inches in diameter (Figures 1 and 2). Some scales may have white markings on the body. European fruit lecanium scale overwinters as an immature on twigs and branches with maturing occurring in spring. In May and June, females lay many eggs underneath their bodies. In June eggs hatch into small tan-colored crawlers. The duration of an egg hatch can last several days depending on the temperature. Crawlers migrate to leaf undersides and subsequently feed on plant fluids until late summer. At that point, the crawlers migrate back onto twigs and branches to complete their development the following spring. There is one generation per year in Kansas.

Figure 2. MatureEuropeanFruitLecaniumScaleonBaldCypressMay2016 Figure 1. MatureEuropeanFruitLecaniumScalesonBaldCypressMay2016
Figure 1 & 2: Mature European Fruit Lecanium Scale on Bald Cypress

Management of European fruit lecanium scale primarily involves timely applications of insecticides. Applications should be made when crawlers are present because the crawlers are most vulnerable life stage to insecticide sprays. Mature scales possess a shell-like covering that protects them from exposure to insecticides. Repeat applications will be required as the eggs do not all hatch simultaneously but may hatch over a three to four-week period. The most appropriate time to apply insecticides is in late June to early July when the crawlers are feeding on leaves; thus enhancing their exposure to any spray residues. There are a number of insecticides, with contact activity that are effective in suppressing populations of the European fruit lecanium scale. However, many have broad-spectrum activity and will kill many natural enemies including: parasitoids and predators. In fact, most out-breaks of scale insects are caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides (insecticides and miticides). Therefore, always read the label and exercise caution when applying any pesticide. In the winter, dormant oils can be applied to kill overwintering scales by means of suffocation.

I need to acknowledge Jeff Otto of Wichita, KS for bringing to my attention that European fruit lecanium scale was active. I have also observed infestations in Manhattan, KS.

Alfalfa Update

–Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Much of the alfalfa in northcentral Kansas that could be swathed has been in the last week.  The cool damp weather has kept the adult alfalfa weevils in the fields.  They are congregated under windrows in the cut fields where they do a little feeding on the stems, resulting in characteristic spots of epidermis removal, called ‘barking’.  As these windrows are picked up there will be the characteristic striping across the fields where the windrows held back the regrowth underneath, plus provided the weevils with a protected site to continue feeding.  Fields not yet swathed also have significant populations of adults but this should not impact the foliage prior to cutting.

AW adult and barking

Windrows

Pea aphids are also present in both cut and uncut fields, but lady beetles and green lacewings are also, so would not expect pea aphid populations to have a negative impact on alfalfa.

Pea aphids adult and nymph

greenlacewing

pinkspotted lady beetle

Sevenspotted lady beetle

Potato leafhopper adults are already present in all alfalfa fields we checked over the past week.  This is earlier than usual for these pests as they typically don’t migrate into the state for another month, between the 2nd and 3rd cutting.  Some of these populations already exceed the treatment threshold with just adults, so hatching nymphs will just increase the populations further.  These potato leafhopper populations need to be monitored throughout the rest of the growing season.

PLH adult and nymph

Spirea Aphid: Watch out for this “Sucking” Insect

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Spirea aphid (Aphis spiraecola) is present feeding on spirea (Spiraea spp.) plants in landscapes. Spirea aphid colonies aggregate on terminal growth (Figures 1 and 2) and their feeding causes leaf curling and stunted plant growth. Spirea aphids prefer to feed on stems and leaf undersides of succulent plant growth. All mature aphids are parthenogenic (reproduce without mating) with females giving birth to live nymphs, which themselves are females. Eggs are laid on bark or on buds in the fall by wingless females after having mated with males. Eggs hatch in spring, and young nymphs develop into stem mothers that are wingless. Spirea aphid females are pear-shaped and bright yellow-green. Stem mothers reach maturity in about 20 days. Each spirea aphid female can produce up to 80 offspring or young females.

Figure 2. SpireaAphidsAggregatingonTerminalGrowthofSpireaPlant
Figure 1: Spirea Aphids Feeding on Spirea Plant

Figure 2. SpireaAphidsAggregatingonTerminalGrowthofSpireaPlant
Figure 2: Spirea Aphids Aggregation on Terminal Growth of Spirea Plant

Although the aphids produce honeydew (sticky, clear liquid); continual rainfall will wash the honeydew off plants. In the summer, both winged and non-winged aphids may be present. The winged forms usually appear when conditions become crowded on infested plants, in which they migrate to a more suitable food source, such as another spirea plant to start another colony. Heavy rainfall and strong winds will dislodge spirea aphid populations from plants onto the ground, where they eventually die. Frequent applications (twice per week) of forceful water sprays will quickly remove spirea aphid populations without disturbing natural enemies such as parasitoids and predators. They have a number of natural enemies including: ladybird beetles, green lacewings, and hover flies that may help to regulate spirea aphid populations.

Spirea aphids are, in general, exposed to regular applications of pesticides such as insecticidal soaps (potassium salts of fatty acids) and/or horticultural oils (petroleum, mineral, or neem-based) that may be effective in suppressing populations of spirea aphid. These pesticides have contact activity only, so thorough coverage of all plant parts is important. Furthermore, these pesticides are generally less harmful to natural enemies compared to conventional pesticides.

Rose Sawflies: Out With a Vengeance!

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

We are receiving numerous questions regarding insects feeding and completely devouring rose plants. These insects are sawflies, and there are at least two species that attack roses during this time of year: the rose slug (Endelomyia aethiops) and bristly rose slug (Cladius difformis). Rose slugs are the immature or larval stage of sawflies, which are black to yellow colored wasps.

Rose sawfly females create pockets or slits along the edges of rose leaves with their saw-like ovipositor (egg-laying devise) and insert individual eggs. Larvae hatch from eggs and resemble a slug. The larvae are 1.2 cm long when full-grown and yellow-green with an orange head (Figure 1). Larvae eventually fall on the soil surface to pupate. Rose slugs overwinter as pupae in earthen cells created by the larvae. There is typically one generation per year in Kansas. Bristly rose slug larvae are pale-green and 1.5 to 2.0 cm in length. The body is covered with numerous bristle-like hairs (Figure 2). There is generally one generation per year in Kansas.

Figure 1. RoseSawflyLarvaeFeedingonRoseLeaf
Figure 1: Rose Sawfly Larvae Feeding on Rose Leaf

Figure 2. BristlyRoseSlugLarvaeFeedingOnLeafUndersideofRose
Figure 2: Bristly Rose Slug Larvae Feeding on Spirea Plant

Rose slug larvae feed on the underside of rose leaves; resulting in leaves with a skeletonized appearance (Figures 3 and 4) and eventually they create notches or holes on the leaf margins. Bristly rose slug larvae feed on the underside of rose leaves and also cause leaves to appear skeletonized. However, the larvae may chew larger holes than the rose slug.

Figure 3. DamageonRosePlantCausedByRoseSlug
Figure 3: Damage on Rose Plant Caused by Rose Slug

Figure 4. DamageonRoseLeafCausedByRoseSlug
Figure 4: Damage on Rose Leaf Caused by Rose Slug

Small infestations of either the rose sawfly or bristly rose slug can be removed by hand and placed into a container of soapy water. A forceful water spray will quickly dislodge sawfly larvae from rose plants and they will not be able to crawl back onto rose plants. There are a number of contact insecticides with various active ingredients that are effective in suppressing populations of both sawflies. However, the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (sold as Dipel or Thuricide) will have no activity on sawflies as this compound only works on caterpillars.

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