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Extension Entomology

Tag: insecticide applications

Soybean Update – Green Cloverworms, Thistle Caterpillars, Stink Bugs, Soybean Aphids, and Beneficials.

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

 

Insect activity is still increasing around north central Kansas.  One positive, bean leaf beetles seem to be at really low densities in most fields, at least so far.  Green cloverworm larvae are at various developmental stages but there are still many early instars.  This means there probably is considerable defoliation to come because, as the larvae get larger, they simply eat more leaf tissue.  However, as green cloverworm populations increase, they are often infected with an entomophagous fungus which decimates their populations.

 

There also are many areas with significant infestations of thistle caterpillars and garden webworms.  Both species web leaf tissue around and over themselves, creating a relatively secure area from which they feed on leaves.  Many thistle caterpillars are really small right now and may not be noticed yet.  So, continued monitoring is important, especially with soybeans just entering the reproductive stages of development.

 

Green stink bugs are relatively common in both conventionally planted and double-cropped soybeans.  There are eggs, nymphs, adults, and mating adults all present at this time so sampling needs to be conducted periodically as these bugs can feed on the beans while they are developing inside the pods.

Soybean aphids were detected in double-cropped soybeans in Dickinson Co. on 24 August. Many soybean fields have significant populations of green lacewings and lady beetles, both of which may help control soybean aphids if and when they migrate into these fields.  So, as always, please take these into consideration if insecticide applications are contemplated.

 

For more information of thresholds and management options for these pests, please refer to the KSU Soybean Insect Management Guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF743.pdf

Sorghum Update – (chinch bugs, corn leaf aphids, corn earworms)

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

 

Chinch bugs continue to be very active in both corn and sorghum throughout north central Kansas.  Both nymphs and adults are present.

 

Many adults are still mating, which indicates that there are more eggs, nymphs, and adults yet to come.  One consolation relative to the numerous chinch bugs in sorghum fields is that the four spotted egg eater, Collops quadrimaculatas, seems to be plentiful as well.  They have been collected in samples while sweep sampling alfalfa and are also present in sorghum fields.  These little beetles are predacious on insect eggs, and it has even been reported that they feed on chinch bug eggs.  Not sure they will be able to provide a great deal of control on chinch bug populations but it sure can’t hurt!

 

Corn leaf aphids are also very plentiful throughout north central Kansas.  These aphids usually feed on developing corn tassels and silks, but probably are more commonly associated with, or at least noticed in, whorl stage sorghum.  These aphid colonies sometimes produce enough honeydew, and it is so sticky, that often the sorghum head gets bound up in the whorl and therefore doesn’t extend up properly.  These colonies are not usually dense enough on a field-wide basis to justify and insecticide application.  These plentiful aphids are also serving as a food source for many predators, i.e. lady beetles, green lacewings, etc.

 

 

Corn earworms are still plentiful in corn but as they mature, pupate, and become adults they most likely will migrate to sorghum to feed on developing kernels (between flowering and soft dough), and soybeans where they will feed on developing beans within the pods.

For more information on sorghum and soybean pest management, please consult the KSU Sorghum Insect Management guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf742.pdf

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

 

 

Ash/Lilac Borer: Don’t Get “Bored-Down” By This Caterpillar Borer

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

 

        The time of year has come to be thinking about dealing with the ash/lilac borer (Podosesia syringae). First, you need to understand that this is not the same insect pest as the Emerald ash borer (Agrilius planipennis), which was recently discovered (March 31, 2017) in Doniphan County (Kansas now has 7 counties under quarantine). Emerald ash borer is a wood-boring beetle whereas the ash/lilac borer is a wood-boring caterpillar. Ash/lilac borer adults are generally active from mid-April through early-May. Adults are brown, clearwing moths that resemble paper wasps (Figure 1). Peak moth activity commonly occurs from May through June; however, this depends on temperature. Adult females lay tan-colored, oval-shaped eggs in cracks and crevices, or wounds at the base of plant stems. A single female may live approximately one week and lay up to 400 eggs. Below are the major life history parameters and management strategies affiliated with the ash/lilac borer:

Figure 1. Ash Lilac Borer Adults Mating

 

* Larvae cause plant damage by creating tunnels and feeding within the bark (cambium). Moreover, larvae may bore further into the wood and feed within the sapwood and heartwood.

 

* Feeding by the larvae restricts the flow of water and nutrients causing shoot or branch dieback. Ash/lilac borer primarily feed near the base of plant stems creating swollen areas or cracks at the base of plants, and where major branches attach to the trunk.

 

* Evidence of larval feeding includes the presence of light-colored sawdust that accumulates at the base of infected trees or shrubs.

 

* Ash/lilac borer overwinters as a late-instar larva located in feeding tunnels or galleries.

* To determine if trees or shrubs are or have been infested with ash/lilac borers check for the presence of brown papery pupal cases that protrude from the bark (Figure 2). These are the pupal cases where adults emerged from.

 

* In Kansas, there is generally one generation per year.

Figure 2. Pupal Cases of Ash Lilac Borer Protruding From Tree Trunk

 

* The way to avoid problems with ash/lilac borer is to minimize “plant stress” by properly implementing cultural practices, such as; irrigation (watering), fertility, pruning, and mulching. Stressed plants are more susceptible to attack than so called “healthy plants.” A two to three foot wide mulched area around the base of trees and shrubs prevents injury from lawn mowers and weed-trimmers. In addition, avoid pruning plants in late spring through early summer (under usual weather conditions), because this is when adults are typically present and the volatiles emitted from pruning cuts may attract adult females.

* Insecticides containing the active ingredients, permethrin or bifenthrin can be applied to the bark, at least up to six feet from the base, in order to prevent ash/lilac borer larvae from entering plants after eggs hatch. Clear-wing borer larvae crawl on the bark searching for entry points, which exposes them to insecticide residues.

 

* Pheromone traps are commercially available for capturing adult males (Figure 3), which helps to determine when females will be laying eggs. Pheromone traps help in timing insecticide applications. Insecticide spray applications should begin seven to10 days after capturing the first adults. Be sure to also check pheromone traps two to three times per week and record the number of newly captured adult males.

 

Figure 3. Pheromone Trap Used To Capture Ash Lilac Borer Adult Males

 

* For more information regarding ash/lilac borer management contact your county or state extension specialist.

Alfalfa weevil status

–Jeff Whitworth, Extension Entomologist: Holly Schwarting, Entomology Research Assoc.; Steve Watson, Agronomy; Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library

Thanks to the unusually warm winter, alfalfa weevil larvae are already present in some areas. Many more will no doubt be hatching in the next few days to weeks. Alfalfa weevils will continue to hatch and larvae continue to develop any time temperatures exceed 48°F.

 

Thus, it looks like larvae will be emerging, and damage progressing, relatively quickly. Whether this warm weather will compress the alfalfa weevil larval feeding so that the period of damage is not as stretched out as usual remains to be seen. There are also lady beetles active in the alfalfa fields, as well as a few pea aphids. The treatment threshold we use for alfalfa weevil insecticide applications is 30-50% infestation, i.e. 1 larva/2-3 stems.

 

Alfalfa weevils are cool-weather insects. Adults lay eggs in alfalfa fields in the fall or even the winter. Most of these eggs survive the winter. Eggs hatch and larvae emerge after accumulating enough degree days or thermal units, normally in early spring. Alfalfa weevil adults also lay eggs in the spring, but in many cases the first larvae to emerge are from eggs that were laid in the fall and overwintered.

 

That said, an anomaly we encountered in the fall of 2016 was a significant infestation of relatively large (2nd and 3rd instar) larvae from mid-November to mid-December. Alfalfa weevils normally overwinter as eggs or adults – not larvae. In the last week we could find none of these more mature larvae, or any pupae. So, hopefully they perished in the colder weather.

Figure 1. Alfalfa weevil larvae collected Nov. 16, 2016 in Dickinson Co.

 

 

Figure 2. Alfalfa weevil larva collected Feb. 22, 2017 in Dickinson Co.

However, as of February 22 we did start finding newly hatched larvae in north central Kansas (Figure 2). Obviously the larvae hatching out now are coming from eggs deposited prior to Jan. 1, 2017. The return of below freezing temperatures may kill those very small, young larvae, especially if they stay in the plant terminals. But, they may survive if they crawl down the plant and get in the plant residue where they will be protected. So, scouting should continue as follows:

 

 

Early scouting for alfalfa weevil

 

Scouting for alfalfa weevil larvae should start after plants break dormancy – which means now. A degree day or thermal unit accumulation system can be used to predict when to initiate scouting. Insect development is controlled by temperature. This can be used to help manage these pests. Weevil activity has been tracked in Kansas for the past few years and has been used to generate recom­mendations (Table 1).

 

 

Table 1. Approximate degree days required for alfalfa weevil development

Degree Days or Thermal Units Stage Importance
25–300 Eggs develop and hatch In stems
301–450 1st and 2nd instars Leaf pinholing – start sampling
450–600 2nd and 3rd instars Defoliation
600–750 3rd and 4th instars Defoliation
750+ Pupa to adult Adults – some feeding – oversummering

 

To calculate a degree day, record the daily high tempera­ture anytime it exceeds 48ºF. For example, if there is only one day in January that the temperature exceeded 48ºF, take that temperature and add the lowest temperature for that day, or 48ºF, whichever is higher. Then divide by 2 to calculate the average tempera­ture for that day. Next, subtract 48ºF.

As an example, say there was one day in January when the high temperature was 60ºF and the low was 35ºF. You would use 48ºF as the default value for the low instead of 35ºF. The calculation in this case would be:

[(60 + 48)/2] – 48 = 54 – 48 = 6 degree days (or weevil development units)

 

The following chart from K-State’s Weather Data Library shows examples of the degree days that have accumulated for the period for Jan. 1 – Feb. 21, 2017 and for last fall:

 

 

Do not be too quick to treat for alfalfa weevil. Wait until the field reaches the treatment threshold. Treating too early is not only unnecessary, it can also have detrimental effects by killing beneficial insects.

 

For more details, see Alfalfa Weevils, K-State publication MF-2999, at your local county Extension office, or http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2999.pdf

 

 

Other early spring alfalfa insects

 

While scouting for alfalfa weevils, you will probably also notice a few pea aphids. These are also early season potential pests. However, in the past few years pea aphids have seemed to be adequately controlled by adult lady beetles. This year seems to be starting that way as well, with a few pea aphids, but also many adult lady beetles present.

Figure 3. Pea aphid on alfalfa leaf.

 

Also, producers need to keep an eye out for army cutworms as there were some reports of army cutworm activity last fall. Army cutworms start feeding again any time temperatures are above 50 degrees F. Armyworms are another potential problem, but probably a little later in the spring.

 

Those are the early season pests which have the most potential for damaging alfalfa prior to the first cutting. For more information on control, see K-State publication MF-809, Alfalfa Insect Management 2017, at: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF809.pdf

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