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Extension Entomology

Category: Horticulture

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Hordes of goldenrod soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus, adults are now feeding on goldenrod (Solidago spp.) (Figure 1) and other flowering plants. Adults are extremely abundant feeding on the flowers of wild onion (Allium spp.) (Figure 2), and can also be seen feeding on linden trees (Tilia spp.) in bloom. Adults, in fact, can be seen feeding and mating simultaneously. The goldenrod soldier beetle is common to the western and eastern portions of Kansas.

Fig 1. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adults Feeding On Goldenrod Flowers (A.–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Fig 2. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adults Feeding on Wild Onion Flowers (A.–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

Adults are about 1/2 inch (12 mm) long, elongated, and orange with two dark bands located on the base of the forewings (elytra) and thorax (middle section) (Figure 3). Adults are usually present from August through September. Adult soldier beetles feed on the pollen and nectar of flowers; however, they are also predators, and will consume small insects such as aphids and caterpillars. Flowers are a great place for the male and female soldier beetle adults to meet, get acquainted, and mate (there is no wasting time in the insect world J) (Figure 4). Soldier beetle adults do not cause plant damage. Sometimes adults will enter homes but they are rarely a concern. The best way to deal with adults in the home is to sweep, hand-pick, or vacuum.

 

Fig 3. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adult (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU).

Fig 4. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adults Mating (A.–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

Adult females lay clusters of eggs in the soil. Each egg hatches into a larva that is dark-colored, slender, and covered with small dense hairs or bristles, which gives the larva a velvety appearance. The larva resides in soil feeding on grasshopper eggs. Occasionally, the larva will emerge from the soil to feed on soft-bodied insects and small caterpillars.

 

Scolia dubia: Parasitoid of Green June Beetle Larvae

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Have you seen large wasp-like looking insects feeding on flowering plants such as wild onion, Allium spp and goldenrod, Solidago spp.? Well, this is Scolia dubia, which is a parasitoid of green June beetle, Cotinus nitida, larvae (grubs) located in the soil. Parasitoids are approximately 3/4-inches long with purple to black wings. The abdomen has red-brown markings and two very conspicuous yellow spots on both sides of the third abdominal segment (Figure 1). The parasitoids may be seen flying in a figure-eight pattern several inches above turfgrass infested with green June beetle larvae. The parasitoid can be seen feeding on goldenrod flowers along with goldenrod soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus, adults (Figure 2) (see next article).

Fig 1. Adult Scolia dubia Feeding on Wild Onion Flower (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU).

 

Fig 2. Scolia dubia Adult Feeding on Goldenrod Flowers Along with Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adults (A.–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Female parasitoids enter the burrow of a green June beetle larva, paralyze the larva by stinging it, and then attach an egg to the underside of the larva. After hatching, the parasitoid larva consumes the dead green June beetle larva. Scolia dubia overwinter as a pupa in a cocoon located at the bottom of the burrow and then emerge (eclose) later as an adult. Adult parasitoids typically emerge (eclose) in middle to late August and feed on flower pollen and nectar. These parasitoids, unlike cicada killer wasps, are not very aggressive and will only sting (at least the females) when handled or stepped on with bare feet.

 

New Extension Publications – Pesticides and Bees; Squash Bug and Squash Vine Borer

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Pesticides and Bees

This extension publication is intended to increase awareness of the impact of pesticides on bees and offer suggestions on how to protect bees from pesticide exposure. It describes how bee behavior influences pesticide exposure and toxicity, and why laboratory studies reach different conclusions than what researchers have observed in the field. Benefits and risks associated with specific types of pesticides and application methods are discussed, as well as, complex pesticide interactions, which increase risks to bees but are not well understood. Below is the link to retrieve a PDF file of the extension publication:

 

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3428.pdf

 

 

Squash Bugs and Squash Vine Borer

Both squash bug and squash vine borer are still creating havoc in vegetable gardens throughout Kansas. What can you do to alleviate the damage caused by these insect pests? Well, there are extension publications on both insect pests that were up-dated in 2016 by Drs. Raymond Cloyd and James Nechols. Below is the link to these extension publications:

 

  1. Squash Bug

 

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3308.pdf

 

 

  1. Squash Vine Borer

 

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3309.pdf

 

Red-Shouldered Bug

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Red-shouldered bug, Jadera haematoloma, nymph and adult populations can be found gathering on the south and west sides of golden-rain trees, homes, and buildings; sometimes in extensive numbers. These insects are similar in appearance to the boxelder bug, Leptocoris trivitatus (Figure 1);

Fig 1. Adult boxelder bug (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

however, adults lack the central red stripe on the pronotum of the thorax, and red markings on the wings. Instead, red-shouldered bugs have a distinctive red line on both sides of the thorax or ‘shoulder.’ Red-shouldered bugs are somewhat flattened and 3/8 to 5/8 inches long (Figure 2).

Fig 2. Adult red-shouldered bug (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

Nymphs resemble the adults in appearance but are more oval-shaped and have wing pads—but not wings. Adults overwinter in a protected location including homes. They will also overwinter in the soil or leaf litter near building foundations. Red-shouldered bugs feed primarily on the seeds of the golden-rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata. Both nymphs and adults can be found aggregating on the trunk of trees (Figure 3).

Fig 3. Red-shouldered bugs aggregating on the bark of golden-rain tree (–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Red-shouldered bugs can become a nuisance later in the season when they enter homes and buildings to overwinter. They do not transmit any diseases that we are aware of. The red-shouldered bug is native to the United States.

The main way to manage red-shouldered bugs from entering homes and buildings is by sealing or caulking cracks and crevices. Applying an insecticide to the outside of a home or building such as carbaryl (Sevin) or one of the pyrethroid-based insecticides (e.g. bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or permethrin) may reduce the number of adults that enter homes or buildings. Once red-shouldered bugs enter homes or buildings, however, there are few effective management options other than vacuuming them up, and disposing of them from the bags outdoors. If you have any questions regarding red-shouldered bugs contact your local extension office or a university-based extension entomologist.

 

Cicada Killers

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

The presence of dog day cicada (Tibicen pruinosa) adults ‘singing’ in trees means that it is time to be aware of ‘huge’ wasps flying around. These are the Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus). Cicada killer females search-out, kill, and provision each cell within a nest with a cicada. The dead cicada becomes a food source for young cicada killers or larvae. Cicada killers are an urban nuisance pest, especially when nesting, sometimes in large numbers, in bare areas or areas around a structure. People are generally concerned because cicada killers look-like giant yellowjackets.

Cicada killers are about 2.0 inches long and black, with yellow-banded markings on the abdomen. The head and transparent wings are red-brown (Figure 1).

Fig 1. Close-up of cicada killer adult (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Cicada killers are not dangerous, but they can be intimidating; especially the males. Cicada killers are ground-nesting solitary wasps, with the female digging a 6 to 10-inch burrow (1/2 inch in diameter) in the ground; usually in sandy or loose soil. A pile of sand or soil, depending on soil type, typically surrounds the entrance. Females search for and sting large insects such as a cicada or katydid, and then bring the immobilized or paralyzed prey back to the burrow (Figure 2).

Fig 2. Cicada killer female transporting a paralyzed cicada to her nest (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

The female then places the prey into a chamber within the nest and lays an egg on the body. Sometimes a female will place two prey in a burrow but only lays an egg on one. The female eventually covers the burrow, digs another, and repeats the process. The egg hatches into a legless grub-like larva that consumes the prey. Full-grown larvae overwinter in the burrow, pupate in the spring, and emerge as adults from July through August.

Male cicada killers establish aerial territories and patrol for intruders. A male cicada killer wards-off other males that enter his territory and attempt to mate with females. In addition, an individual, walking into the territory is typically confronted by a very large wasp hovering in front of the face and ‘zips’ to the side and back. However, after determining that the ‘intruder’ is not a rival or a threat, the male cicada killer will ignore the individual. Nevertheless, an individual walking across a lawn, fairway, or other area where cicada killers are nesting, will be subject to the same the ‘experience’ through each male’s territory. Regardless, cicada killers are unlikely to sting an individual. Wasp and bee stingers are modified egg-laying devices (ovipositors), so males are unable to sting. Females, however, may sting if crushed or when stepped on with bare feet, or grabbed with bare hands.

Cicada killers are common in areas with bare soil, so mulching, planting ground covers, or sodding may reduce potential problems. Furthermore, cicada killers can be a problem in well-maintained areas such as irrigated and regularly fertilized turfgrass. Cicada killers are a major problem when nesting in areas accessible to or frequented by the public. Applying carbaryl (Sevin) or pyrethroid-based insecticides containing the active ingredients; permethrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, and/or lambda-cyhalothrin to the burrowed area will kill females in golf course sand traps. Once females are gone, males eventually leave. In home yards, sandboxes should be covered with a tarp when not being used to deter cicada killers. Sand below swings, jungle gyms, or other playground equipment can be replaced with bark mulch or shredded tires.

Managing cicada killers in baseball infields and volleyball courts can be more challenging because people with minimal clothing and exposed skin are diving and sliding onto the ground, which makes it difficult to recommend using an insecticide on a volleyball court. However, in these cases, the use of a geotextile fabric placed beneath the sand may create a barrier that prevents cicada killers from creating burrows. The recommendations mentioned above will only be effective if cicada killer populations are not excessive.

Elm Leaf Beetle Adults, Larvae and Damage…Unbelievable!

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

 

If you want to see the destructive ability of an extensive population of elm leaf beetle, Pyrrhalta luteola, larvae; there are three large Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) trees located on the south-side of Old Claflin Road on the campus of Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS) that have been heavily fed upon by the larval stage to the point that nearly all the green content of the leaves has been removed (Figure 1).

Fig 1. Feeding damage caused by elm leaf beetle larvae (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU

In fact, the populations are so extensive that adults and larvae are present simultaneously (Figure 2).

Fig 2. Elm leaf beetle adult and larvae on tree trunk (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

In addition, larvae are accumulating and pupating on the trunk (Figure 3)

Fig 3. Elm leaf beetle pupae in the crevices of the tree trunk (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KS

and at the base of the trees (Figures 4 and 5). As of this past weekend (July 14-15), adults were migrating upward to feed (on what is left). The infestation is almost ‘biblical’ in proportion…it is absolutely AWESOME (from an entomological stand-point).

Fig 4. Elm leaf beetle larvae and pupae at the base of a tree (Author–Raymond Cloyd)

Fig 5. Close-up of elm leaf beetle larvae and pupae at the base of a tree (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Elm leaf beetle adults are 1/4 inches in length, yellow to dull-green, with a black stripe on each wing cover extending the entire length of the abdomen. The head and thorax have distinct black spots (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Adult elm leaf beetle (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Adults feed between the major veins resulting in leaves having a ‘shot hole’ (similar to ‘buckshot’) appearance. The larvae are 1/2 inch long and yellow, with two lines of black spots on the back (Figure 7).

Fig 7. Elm leaf beetle larvae on tree trunk (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU

 

They feed on the underside of leaves causing the leaves to appear skeletonized, and eventually turning brown (Figure 8). The larvae normally migrate down the trunk of trees and tunnel into or reside on the soil surface to pupate, with adults emerging later on that will migrate upward on the tree trunk. There are two generations per year in Kansas. A contact insecticide can be applied when adults and larvae are feeding on leaves. However, thorough coverage of leaf undersides is important as this is where the adults and larvae tend to feed.

Fig 8. Feeding damage to elm leaf caused by elm leaf beetle larvae (Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

 

Additional arthropod (insect and mite) pests to be aware of in landscapes and gardens include:

–by Dr. Raymond Cloys

 

* Bagworms

* Grasshoppers

* Chiggers

* Ticks

* Squash bug

* Lace bugs

* Colorado potato beetle

* Flea beetles

* Harlequin bug

* Twelve spotted cucumber beetle

* Twospotted spider mite

 

Also, many butterflies, including the Monarch, are feeding on flowering plants such as zinnia. In addition, Monarch butterfly larvae or caterpillars are feeding on common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca plants (Figure 1).

Fig 1. Monarch butterly larvae or caterpillar feeding on common milkweed plant (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

If you have any questions or comments regarding any of these arthropod pests please contact your county based extension office or the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS).

 

 

Do Not Get ‘Ticked-Off’ After Eating Meat

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

 

We have received several inquiries regarding information pertaining to the relationship between tick bites and allergic reactions after eating meat, which doctors have called the ‘Alpha-Gal Syndrome.’ The information is correct. What happens is that the gut of a lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (Figure 1),

Fig 1. Lone star tick female (Author–Pestworld.org)

 

after feeding on a mammal; such as a raccoon or mouse, becomes filled with a carbohydrate-based molecule called alpha-galactose or alpha-gal. Alpha-galactose enters the body when an infected lone star tick feeds/bites a human, which stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that will ward-off the molecule. Consequently, if the immune system encounters alpha-galactose again, then a potentially life-threating allergic reaction may ensue. So, what is the problem? Well, many meat products including beef (Figure 2)

 

Fig 2. Beef tenderloin (Author–delish.com)

 

and pork contain alpha-galactose, and anyone having been bitten by a lone star tick, and then later on consuming meat may develop an allergic reaction. However, fish and chicken can be eaten without concern because they do not have the antigens associated with alpha-galactose. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself in order to avoid being bitten by ticks, in this case, the lone star tick, by taking the recommended precautions (e.g. use repellents, wear light-colored clothing, tuck pant legs into white socks, and inspect yourself after having returned from wooded areas) so you can continue to enjoy eating meat at home or at your favorite restaurant.

 

Japanese Beetles…With A Vengeance

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

 

Japanese beetle, Popilla japonica, adults are out in full-force in most regions of Kansas feeding on different plant species, including: roses, Rosa spp.; littleleaf linden, Tilia cordata; and Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, among many other plant species. The means of dealing with the adult stage of Japanese beetle are limited, and have been for many years, with the use of insecticides still being the primary strategy. Japanese beetle adults are one of the most destructive insect pests of horticultural plants in both landscapes and gardens. In addition, the larva or grub is a major turfgrass insect pest in home lawns, commercial settings, and golf courses.

Japanese beetle adults are 9/16 of an inch in length and metallic green with coppery-brown wing covers (Figure 1).

Fig 1. Japanese beetle adults feeding and mating on a leaf (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU

 

There are about 14 tufts of white hair present along the edge of the abdomen (Figure 2).

 

Fig 2. Japanese beetle adult feeding. Note white tufts of hair along the edge of the abdomen (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU).

Adult Japanese beetles emerge from the soil and live up to 45 days feeding on plants over a four-to-six-week period. Adults feed on many ornamental plants including: trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous annual and perennials, and of course—roses. Plant placement in the landscape and volatiles emitted by plants are factors that affect adult acceptance. Furthermore, Japanese beetle adults produce aggregation pheromones that attract both males and females to the same feeding location. Adults can fly up to five miles to locate a host plant; however, they tend to only fly short distances to feed and for females to lay eggs.

Japanese beetle adults feed through the upper leaf surface (epidermis) and leaf center (mesophyll), leaving the lower epidermis intact. Adults avoid feeding on tissue between leaf veins, resulting in leaves appearing lace-like or skeletonized (Figure 3).

Fig 3. Japanese beetle adult feeding damage on leaf (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

They are most active during warm days, feeding on plants exposed to full sun throughout the day, which is likely why roses are a susceptible host plant because roses require at least six hours of direct sunlight in order to flower. Japanese beetle adults start feeding at the top of plants, migrating downward after depleting food sources. Japanese beetle adults will also feed on flowers (Figure 4),

 

Fig 4. Japanese beetle adults feeding on rose flower (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

chewing holes in flower buds, which prevents flowers from opening or causes petals to fall prematurely.

Dealing with Japanese beetle adults involves implementing a variety of plant protection strategies, including: cultural, physical, and insecticidal controls. Cultural control is affiliated with maintaining healthy plants through proper irrigation, fertility, mulching, and pruning, which are important in minimizing ‘stress’, which may possibly decrease susceptibility. Moreover, removing weeds that are attractive to Japanese beetle adults such as smartweed (Polygonum spp.) may alleviate infestations. Physical control involves hand-picking or collecting Japanese beetle adults from plants before populations are extensive. The best time to hand-pick or collect adults is in the morning when ambient air temperatures are typically ‘cooler.’ Adults are easily collected by placing a wide-mouthed jar or bucket containing rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) or soapy water underneath each adult, and then touching them. Adults that are disturbed fold their legs perpendicular to the body, and fall into the liquid and are subsequently killed. This procedure, when conducted daily or every-other-day, particularly after adults emerge, may substantially reduce plant damage. The use of Japanese beetle traps (Figure 5)

Fig 5. Japanese beetle trap (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

within a landscape or garden is not recommended since the floral lure and synthetically-derived sex pheromone may attract more adults into an area than would ‘normally’ occur. Japanese beetle adults may also feed on plants before reaching the traps, which increases potential damage.

Spray applications of contact insecticides will kill Japanese beetle adults. However, repeat applications are required; especially when populations are excessive. The insecticide carbaryl (Sevin®) and several pyrethroid-based insecticides; such as those containing bifenthrin or cyfluthrin as the active ingredient, will suppress Japanese beetle adult populations. However, most of these insecticides will also directly harm many natural enemies (parasitoids and predators). Continual use will result in secondary pest outbreaks of other pests including the twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae. In addition, these insecticides are directly harmful to honey bees and bumble bees. Therefore, applications should be conducted in the early morning or late evening when bees are less active. In general, systemic insecticides are not effective against Japanese beetle adults because they have to feed on leaves and consume lethal concentrations of the active ingredient. If extensive populations are present, plant damage can still occur.

The battle against Japanese beetle adults requires patience, persistence, and diligence to prevent adults from causing substantial damage to plants in landscapes and gardens.

 

 

Green June Beetle Adults Are Flying Around!

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Green June beetle, Cotinis nitida, adults are actively flying around managed and/or unmanaged grassy areas, and ‘bumping’ into people and objects. Adults are 3/4 to 1.0 inch long, velvety-green, and tinged with yellow-brown coloration (Figure 1).

Fig 1. Green June beetle adult (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

Green stripes with yellow-orange margins extend lengthwise on the front wings. The underside of the body is distinctly shiny and metallic green or gold. Adults resemble ‘dive bombers’ flying around for several weeks in July. Green June beetle has a one-year life cycle, and overwinters as a mature larva or grub. Adults typically emerge in late-June and are active during the day, resting at night on plants, in thatch, or in compost. Adults produce a sound similar to that of bumble bees. Adults will feed on ripening fruits (Figure 2)

Fig 2. Green June beetle adult feeding on fruit (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

 

and may occasionally feed on plant leaves. The male beetles swarm in the morning, ‘dive bombing’ to-and-fro just above managed and/or unmanaged grassy areas where females are located. Females emit a pheromone that attracts the males. Clusters of beetles may be seen on the surface of the soil or in grassy areas with several males attempting to mate with a single female, resulting in an ‘insect orgy.’ Mated females that survive the experience will lay clusters of 10 to 30 eggs in moist soil that contains a high amount of organic matter. Eggs hatch in about two weeks in early August and young larvae feed near the soil surface. The larvae feed primarily on organic matter including thatch and grass-clippings; preferring material with a high moisture content. Larvae are 3/8 (early instars) to 1.5 (later instars) inches long, and exhibit a strange behavioral trait—they crawl on their back likely due having a constant itch.

 

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