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Extension Entomology

Category: Alfalfa

Soybean Update — Green Cloverworms

— by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

 

Green cloverworm larvae have been very numerous throughout north central and south central Kansas for the past 30-45 days.  However, the larval stage and the leaf defoliation that they’re known for, has pretty much ceased as most larvae have entered, or are entering, pupation.

 

 

A few green cloverworm larvae can still be found in late planted beans and alfalfa, but for the most part, their feeding will soon cease.  The most common question is, with all these green cloverworm adults around, will they be in the same fields next year?  They do not overwinter in Kansas and most soybean fields will be rotated, so the answer is no.  If the same fields are infested next year, it will not be because of the green cloverworms that survived the winter in that field.

 

Soybean Update – Green cloverworms and Stink bugs

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Green cloverworm adults are quite numerous and are laying eggs in alfalfa and soybeans.  So, there are, or will soon be, small larvae present.  Feeding by green cloverworms will probably not impact alfalfa or most soybean fields unless there are significant larval populations in really late planted fields.

 

 

Stink bug populations seem to be increasing in north central Kansas but most beans should be far enough along in their development that stink bugs should be of little concern.

 

For management decisions for all soybean pests, please refer to the 2017 Soybean Insect Management Guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF743.pdf

Alfalfa Update – Alfalfa caterpillars and Potato leafhoppers

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Alfalfa caterpillars are currently active throughout north central Kansas.  These caterpillars are feeding on foliage, and based upon the size of the larvae in fields, will soon be pupating.  In many fields, swathing is currently, or has just been done and this should help lessen alfalfa caterpillar populations.  However, if the timing is such that these larvae are pupating in the soil and thus swathing does not remove/destroy the pupae, the emerging butterflies may lay eggs on recently cut fields and the developing larvae may feed on regrowth.  This may retard regrowth for a couple of weeks until larvae pupate.

Potato leafhoppers are also very numerous throughout north central Kansas in uncut alfalfa fields.  Thus, their characteristic feeding damage, called ‘hopper burn’, is common.  Swathing should reduce potato leafhopper populations significantly and, hopefully, they will not rebound.  Continued monitoring is prudent as alfalfa caterpillar feeding and potato leafhopper damage may lessen the plant’s ability to store reserves in their roots for overwintering.

 

For management decisions for all alfalfa pests, please refer to the 2017 Alfalfa Insect Management Guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF809.pdf

 

Alfalfa Update

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

 

Potato leafhoppers are still common in all alfalfa fields sampled in the last 7-10 days, unless they have been swathed during that period of time.  Fields swathed within the last week did not have enough potato leafhoppers to reach a treatment threshold.  However, fields swathed just 10-14 days earlier are once again loaded with these little lime green, wedge-shaped leafhoppers.

There do seem to be good populations of green lacewings in uncut alfalfa fields.  However, they do not appear to be impacting the potato leafhopper populations.  We did pick up one alfalfa weevil larva and one adult in an uncut alfalfa field but the alfalfa weevils should not be of concern as major defoliators until next spring.

 

 

Alfalfa Update

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Potato leafhoppers have been infesting alfalfa fields throughout north central Kansas for at least the last month.  They continue to be very active, which is causing quite a bit of leaf yellowing, often called ‘hopper burn’, and even stem and whole-plant stress.  Typically, swathing is sufficient to manage leafhopper populations.  However, they have been actively reproducing and there are many nymphs, so it will be especially important to continue to scout these fields after swathing.  If a stubble spray is deemed necessary after swathing, one application is often highly effective and re-infestation is unusual.

 

Alfalfa caterpillars are also quite common in alfalfa fields, where they feed on foliage, although they rarely do enough damage to warrant an insecticide application.  They will eventually pupate and then turn into a yellow or white sulphur butterfly.

Bean Leaf Beetles in Soybeans

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Soybeans seem to be growing really well around north central Kansas.  As these plants start germinating and growing, however, they provide very attractive hosts for bean leaf beetles.

 

These soybean pests have been inhabiting alfalfa fields and grassy areas since last fall, waiting for these first soybeans.  They are very efficient at finding young, succulent soybeans when the plants start emerging.  They are also relatively unique as foliage feeders because they usually chew round and/or oblong holes in the leaves.

These beetles can eat an alarming number of holes in these small plants.  However, the young plants are very resilient at overcoming this leaf feeding and so there is normally very little impact on yield.  For more information on bean leaf beetle biology, treatment thresholds, and management options please see the following:

Bean Leaf Beetles: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2824.pdf

Soybean Insect Management Guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF743.pdf

 

 

Alfalfa Update

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Alfalfa weevil feeding activity has slowed significantly in north central Kansas, at least south of I-70.  North of I-70, larvae are still developing and thus feeding, but even in the northern counties this feeding and resultant damage should be significantly reduced by the end of the next week.  There are still some small larvae but the majority of populations are pupating or have pupated.  Adult weevils are still hanging out in alfalfa fields and probably will until that 1st cutting, or temperatures get into the mid-80’s or warmer.

Alfalfa Update

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

 

Alfalfa weevil populations in north central Kansas seem to be developing as expected.  Fields sampled this week that had not yet been treated had greatly reduced foliage and were showing obvious signs of significant larval feeding, especially compared to fields that had been treated.

 

 

The good news is that the treated fields seem to be doing well and the untreated fields will probably only continue to be seriously impacted for about another week.  Weevil populations are predominately pupae, pre-pupae, or mature larvae which should cease feeding in the next few days.

 

 

This should give the alfalfa a chance to recover.  However, in untreated fields, and even fields that were treated later, after a majority of the larvae pupated, may have some adult feeding, as they may remain in fields until the 1st cutting or until temperatures start getting into the higher 80’s °F.  Adults feed a little on foliage and/or may cause ‘barking’ on stems, but this usually doesn’t stress plants too much unless there are significant numbers of adults.

 

Very few aphids were detected, but there were a few so periodical sampling should continue to ensure that these aphid populations remain at insignificant levels.

 

Alfalfa Update

— by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Alfalfa weevils are cool weather insects, thriving when temperatures are between 50-75°F and thus mostly affect alfalfa prior to the 1st cutting. That has been the case for about the last two weeks in north central KS. Temperatures have been on the cool side and the alfalfa has not been growing as well as most producers would like.  However, alfalfa weevils have been very active to the point where there are many pupae and even pupal webbing with holes indicating the adult weevils have already emerged and dispersed.  Infestations as of 6 April were composed of very small 1st instar larvae to larger, more mature 3rd instar larvae, as well as pupae, and newly developed adults.  Also, lady beetle larvae were quite common in most alfalfa fields, but no aphids were detected.

Alfalfa weevil feeding damage

 

Alfalfa weevil feeding damage – close

 

Alfalfa Update

–by  Dr. Jeff Whitworth, Dr. Holly Schwarting & JR Ewing

Alfalfa weevil larvae continue to hatch throughout north central Kansas.  Plants still do not seem to be growing very much.  The larvae that have hatched are still tucked inside the tightly closed terminals where they do not shake out very readily when utilizing the “shake bucket” sampling technique.  Thus, many producers are underestimating infestation levels.  So, when sampling to determine treatment threshold, be careful to account for the small stems that hold larvae which aren’t shaking loose.  These small plants need to be totally pulled apart to get an accurate count on alfalfa weevil larvae.

22 March, 2017 – Showing little growth in alfalfa

 

As of 22 March, there were various developmental stages of larvae.  Pea aphids were still present in all alfalfa fields that we checked.  However, no infestation level that would be of concern was detected.  Also some producers have/are burning the existing alfalfa as a form of weevil and weed control.

Picture of an apparatus for burning provided by “The Specimen”

 

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