Fields sampled three weeks ago had relatively large numbers of potato leafhoppers, i.e. 20+/20 sweeps. These fields were swathed approximately two weeks ago and averaged 2 potato leafhoppers/20 sweeps, below the treatment threshold. Thus, timely swathing can be very beneficial in managing potato leafhoppers, without use of an insecticide application.
Have you noticed that your geraniums and petunias are not blooming (flowering)? Well, the “critter” or culprit causing the problem may be the caterpillar or larval stage of the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens). Adults are pale-green to light-brown with the forewing marked with four light wavy bands (Figure 1).
The wingspan is approximately 38.0 mm. Adult females can lay between 500 and 1,000 eggs within 2 to 3 days. Caterpillars are 38.0 mm in length when full-grown and vary in color depending on the host plants fed upon. The caterpillars (larvae) may be black, pale brown, yellow, green, and/or red. They may also possess stripes that extend the length of the body (Figure 2).
Furthermore, caterpillars may have small hairs or setae on localized sections of the body. The caterpillars tunnel into buds (Figure 3)
and feed from inside or chew flower petals, which appear ragged (Figure 4).
Damage usually increases during the growing season. Furthermore, caterpillars feeding inside flower buds on developing ovaries will destroy flowers. Be on the look-out for black fecal deposits (“caterpillar poop”) (Figure 5)
on the flower petals or on leaves below the flowers, which is a clear indication that the caterpillars are feeding. Tobacco budworm caterpillars will feed on a number of annual bedding plants besides geraniums and petunias, including: ageratum, chrysanthemum, nicotiana, snapdragon, and strawflower. Ivy geraniums may be less susceptible than other geranium types. The way to deal with tobacco budworm populations is to apply insecticides before the caterpillars tunnel into the buds using materials containing the following active ingredients: spinosad, cyfluthrin, permethrin, or bifenthrin. Be sure to thoroughly cover all plant parts as tobacco budworm caterpillars will also feed on plant leaves.
You can find more information on tobacco budworm feeding on petunia in the following article:
Davidson, N. A., M. G. Kinsey, L. E. Ehler, and G. W. Frankie. 1992. Tobacco budworm, pest of petunias, can be managed with Bt. California Agriculture 46 (July-August): 79.
Japanese beetle adults are out in full-force in certain regions of Kansas feeding on one of their favorite host plants…roses. The means of dealing with the adult stage of this insect pest are limited, however, and have been for many years, with the use of insecticides being the primary plant protection strategy. Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica is native to Japan and was first reported in the United States in 1916 in the state of New Jersey. Since then, Japanese beetles have spread throughout the country from Maine to Georgia with permanent establishments in nearly every state east of the Mississippi River and several western states west of the Mississippi River. Japanese beetles are established in eastern and central portions of Kansas and are slowly moving further west. The adult is one of the most destructive insect pests of horticultural plants in both landscapes and gardens. The larvae or grub is a major turfgrass pest in home lawns, commercial settings, and golf courses.
Japanese beetle adults are 9/16 inches long and metallic green with coppery-brown wing covers (Figure 1).
There are approximately 14 tufts of white hair present along the median of the abdomen (Figure 2).
Adult Japanese beetles emerge from the soil and live from 30 to 45 days feeding on plants over a four-to-six-week period. They 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 influence adult acceptance. Furthermore, Japanese beetle adults produce aggregation pheromones that attract individuals (both males and females) to the same feeding location. Adults may fly up to five miles to locate a feeding site; however, they tend to fly only short distances to feed and lay eggs.
Japanese beetle adults feed through the upper leaf surface (epidermis) and leaf center (mesophyll), leaving the lower epidermis intact. They usually avoid feeding on tissue between leaf veins, resulting in leaves appearing lace-like or skeletonized (Figure 3).
Adults are most active during warm days, feeding on plants that are exposed to sunlight throughout the day, which is likely why roses are a susceptible host plant because they require at least six hours of direct sunlight. Japanese beetle adults also start feeding at the top of plants, migrating downward after depleting food sources. Japanese beetle adults aggregate in masses on rose flowers (Figure 4).
Although adult beetles feed primarily on flowers, they will also feed on leaves (Figure 5).
Japanese beetle adults chew holes in flower buds, which prevent flowers from opening or cause petals to fall prematurely. Moreover, adults will consume entire rose petals, and feed on the pollen of fully-opened flowers.
Japanese beetle adult management involves implementing a variety of plant protection strategies, including: cultural, physical, and insecticidal. Cultural involves maintaining healthy roses through proper irrigation, fertility, mulching, and pruning, which are important in minimizing any type of stress; thus possibly decreasing susceptibility. Also, removing weeds such as smartweed (Polygonum spp.) that are attractive to Japanese beetle adults will at least alleviate infestations. Physical is associated with hand-picking or collecting Japanese beetle adults from roses before populations are extensive. The appropriate time to hand-pick or collect adult beetles is in the morning when ambient air temperatures are typically “cooler.” Adults can be 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 is not recommended since the floral lure and synthetically-derived sex pheromone may attract more adult beetles into an area than would “normally” occur. Adult beetles may also feed on roses before reaching the traps, which increases potential damage.
Spray applications of contact insecticides will kill Japanese beetle adults. Repeat applications will be required; especially when populations are excessive. Furthermore, thorough coverage of all plant parts will increase effectiveness of the application. The insecticide carbaryl (Sevin) and several pyrethroid-based insecticides including those containing bifenthrin or cyfluthrin as the active ingredient may be used to suppress Japanese beetle adult populations. However, since most of these insecticides are also directly harmful to many natural enemies (parasitoids and predators) their continual use may lead to secondary pest outbreaks of other pests including the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). Moreover, these insecticides are directly harmful to pollinators (honey bees and bumble bees). Therefore, applications should be conducted in the early morning or late evening when pollinators are less active. In general, systemic insecticides, are not effective because Japanese beetle adults have to feed on leaves and consume lethal concentrations of the active ingredient. If extensive populations are present, then damage to plants may still occur.
The battle or war against Japanese beetle adults requires patience, persistence, and diligence in order to prevent adults from causing substantial damage to roses and other susceptible plants.
For more information on Japanese beetle and other pests of roses consult the following publication:
Compendium of Rose Diseases and Pests (second edition). 2007. APS Press. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN.
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 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.
Most corn has been planted in SC and NC Kansas, although some has been struggling somewhat with the cooler temperatures, wet soils, etc. Whatever the case, please remember insecticide seed treatments do a good job of protecting the seed and germinating plants, but not forever. About 3-4 weeks of protection from the time of planting can be expected but after that, wireworms, white grubs, etc. may affect the seedlings, especially under less than ideal growing conditions.
The current wet weather and issues associated with the Zika virus have people “on edge” regarding mosquitoes (Figure 1). However, the common strategies that must be implemented to avoid mosquito bites is the same regardless of the mosquito-disease (e.g. virus) relationship. The three primary strategies that will help to avoid mosquito problems include: 1) source reduction, 2) personnel protection, and 3) insecticides.
1) Source Reduction
First of all, it is important to routinely eliminate or reduce all mosquito breeding sites, which will effectively decrease mosquito populations, by removing stagnant or standing water from any items or areas that may collect water. These include the following:
Wheelbarrows, pet food or water dishes, saucers underneath flower pots, buckets, tires, toys, wading pools, birdbaths, ditches, and equipment. In addition, be sure that gutters drain properly and do not collect water.
2) Personnel Protection
Protect yourself from mosquito bites by delaying or avoiding being outdoors during dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Use repellents that contain the following active ingredients: DEET (Figures 2 and 3) or picaridin (Figure 4). DEET may provide up to 10 hours of protection whereas picaridin provides up to 8 hours of protection. In general, a higher percentage of active ingredient in the product results in longer residual activity or repellency. For children, do not use any more than 30% active ingredient. Furthermore, do not use any repellents on infants less than 2 months old. Clothing can be sprayed with either DEET or permethrin (pyrethroid insecticide). Afterward, always wash clothing separately. Before applying any repellent be sure to read the label carefully.
For stationary ponds there are several products that may be used, such as, “Mosquito Dunks” (Figure 5) and/or “Mosquito Bits” (Figure 6), which contain the active ingredient, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis. The active ingredient is a bacterium that is ingested by mosquito larvae, and subsequently kills them. The bacterium only directly kills mosquito larvae and has no effect on fish or other vertebrates. Try to avoid making area-wide applications of contact insecticides because these types of applications are generally not effective, and the applications may potentially kill many beneficial insects and pollinators (e.g. bees).
This week, Kansas received a section 18 approval for the use of Transform (sulfoxaflor) against sugarcane aphid for 2016, which will give sorghum growers two effective materials to manage aphid infestations. Note, there are differences in price between these two products, which should be factored into any treatment decisions, especially when multiple applications may be necessary.
Recent reports have sorghum receiving insecticide treatments for relatively light populations of sugarcane in south Texas, but the aphid is beginning to slowly move north, so the potential exists for much earlier infestation of Kansas sorghum this year. There are also confirmed reports that the aphid overwintered on Johnsongrass rhizomes just north of Lubbock, TX. This is about about 80 miles further north than in 2015. Reports from Texas indicate some of the cultivars rated as resistant seem to be holding up well, probably with the assistance of good natural enemy populations.
The Sorghum Checkoff has a list of ‘tolerant’ (= resistant) hybrids, but it does not indicate any regional adaptations for the hybrids. We have not yet ranked Kansas-adapted hybrids for resistance to sugarcane aphid, but efforts are underway to evaluate hybrids this summer. We strongly recommend that growers and extension agents contact their local entomology specialists for advice, as management recommendations will vary regionally.
Scout early, scout often, and know before you spray!
We are receiving inquiries regarding the presence of euonymus scale (Unaspis euonymi) crawlers on landscape plants such as evergreen euonymus (Euonymus japonica) and Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis). Euonymus scale overwinters as a mated female on plant stems. Eggs develop and mature underneath the scale, and then hatch over a two- to three-week period. The newly hatched crawlers, which may be noticeable migrating along the stem, start feeding near the base of host plants. Crawlers can also infect adjacent plants by being blown around on air currents, resulting in infestations often not being detected until populations are extensive and damage is noticeable later on in the season. Leaves eventually become spotted with yellow or white areas. Plants located near structures such as foundations, walls or in parking areas are more susceptible to euonymus scale than plants growing in open areas that receive sunlight and air movement. Furthermore, the variegated forms of euonymus are more susceptible to euonymus scale than the green forms.
Heavy infestations of euonymus scale can ruin the aesthetic appearance of plants (Figure 1), causing complete defoliation or even plant death. Females are dark brown, flattened, and resemble an oystershell. Males, however, are elongated, ridged, and white in color (Figures 2 and 3). Males tend to be located on leaves along leaf veins whereas females reside on the stems. There may be up to three generations per year.
Figure 1 – Euonymus Scales
Figure 2 – Male and Female Euonymus Scale on Leaf
Figure 3 – Male and Female Euonymus Scale on Leaf
Cultural practices such as pruning out heavily infested branches—without ruining the aesthetic quality of the plant—is extremely effective in quickly reducing euonymus scale populations. Be sure to immediately discard pruned branches away from the area. If feasible, avoid planting Euonymus japonica in landscapes since this species is highly susceptible to euonymus scale. Winged euonymus (Euonymus alata) is less susceptible to euonymus scale, even when adjacent plants are infested. Applications of insecticides in May through June, when the crawlers are most active, will help to alleviate problems with euonymus scale later in the season. Insecticides recommended for suppression of euonymus scale populations that target the crawlers, include: acephate (Orthene); pyrethroid-based insecticides such as bifenthrin (Talstar), cyfluthrin (Tempo), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar); potassium salts of fatty acids (insecticidal soap); and horticultural (petroleum or mineral-based) and neem (clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil) oils. Check plants on a regular basis for the presence of crawlers, which will help time insecticide applications. In general, three to four applications performed at seven to 10-day intervals may be required although this depends on the level of the infestation. Euonymus scale is a hard or armored scale, so, in most cases, soil or drench applications of systemic insecticides such as imidacloprid (Merit) are not effective in suppressing euonymus scale populations; however, the systemic insecticide dinotefuran (Safari), due to its high-water solubility (39,000 ppm), may provide suppression of euonymus scale populations when applied as a drench to the soil.
Euonymus scale is susceptible to a variety of natural enemies (e.g. parasitoids and predators). These include braconid and ichneumonid wasps, ladybird beetles, green lacewings, and minute pirate bugs. However, natural enemies may not provide enough mortality (‘killing power’) to significantly impact “high” populations of euonymus scale. Furthermore, insecticides such as acephate (Orthene), and many of the pyrethroid-based insecticides, including; bifenthrin (Talstar), cyfluthrin (Tempo), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar) are directly harmful to natural enemies, so applications of these materials may disrupt any natural regulation.
We are receiving inquiries regarding the ash/lilac borer (Podosesia syringae). It is important to note that this is not the same insect pest as the Emerald ash borer (Agrilius planipennis). The Emerald ash borer is a wood-boring beetle whereas the ash/lilac is a wood-boring caterpillar. Ash/lilac borer adults are typically active from mid-to-late-April through early-May. The adults are brown, clearwing moths that resemble paper wasps. Peak moth activity usually occurs from May through June although 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 mated female may live about one week and lay up to 400 eggs. Below are the major biological and management parameters associated with this insect pest:
* Larvae cause plant damage by creating tunnels and feeding within the bark (cambium). The larvae may also bore further into the wood and feed within the sapwood and heartwood.
* Larval feeding restricts the flow of water and nutrients causing shoot or branch dieback. Ash/lilac borer typically feeds 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. Clear-wing borer larvae expel sawdust from cracks in the bark that accumulate at the base of infested trees and shrubs while beetle borers (particularly flat-headed borers) pack their galleries with sawdust-like frass.
* Ash/lilac borer overwinters as late-instar larvae located in feeding tunnels or galleries.
* One way to determine if trees or shrubs are or have been infested with ash/lilac borers is the presence of brown papery pupal cases that protrude from the bark (Figure 1 and Figure 2) These pupal cases are where adults emerge from.
* In Kansas, there is one generation per year.
* The primary means of alleviating problems with ash/lilac borer is to avoid “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 will prevent injury from lawn mowers and weed-trimmers. Furthermore, avoid pruning plants in late spring through early summer (under usual weather conditions), because this time period is when moths are typically present.
* Insecticides containing the active ingredients, permethrin or bifenthrin may 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. Clear-wing borer larvae crawl on the bark in search of entry points, which exposes them to insecticide residues.
* Pheromone traps are commercially available for capturing adult males, which helps to determine when females will be laying eggs. The use of pheromone traps helps in timing applications of insecticides. Insecticide spray applications should begin seven to 10 days after capturing the first moths. Also, be sure to check traps two to three times per week and record the number of newly captured males.
* For more information regarding ash/lilac borer management contact your county or state extension specialist.
I want to acknowledge Jeff Otto of Wichita, KS. Jeff keeps me abreast of the “bug situation” in south-central Kansas. Also, the images associated with Figures 1 and 2 are courtesy of Jeff. If anyone wants to act as a “bug scout” and provide me with information on what “bug” activity is going on in Kansas throughout the year, just like Jeff, please contact me at 785-532-4750 or email@example.com.
This is the time of year when euonymus scale (Unaspis euonymi) becomes noticeable in landscapes on evergreen euonymus (Euonymus japonica) and Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis). Euonymus scale typically overwinters as a mated female, primarily on plant stems. Eggs develop and mature underneath the scale, and then hatch over a two to three week period. The newly hatched crawlers migrate along the stem and start feeding near the base of host plants. Crawlers can also infect adjacent plants by being blown around on air currents, resulting in infestations often not being detected until populations are extensive and damage is noticeable—like right now. Leaves eventually become spotted with yellow or white areas. Plants located near structures such as foundations (Figure 1), walls or in parking areas are more susceptible to euonymus scale than plants growing in open areas that receive sunlight and air movement. In addition, the variegated forms of euonymus are more susceptible to euonymus scale than the green forms.
Figure 1: Euonymus Plants Near Foundation infested with Euonymus Scale.
Heavy infestations of euonymus scale can ruin the aesthetic appearance of plants, causing complete defoliation or even plant death. Females are dark brown, flattened, and resemble an oyster shell. Males, however, are elongated, ridged, and white in color (Figure 2). Males tend to be located on leaves along leaf veins whereas females reside on the stems. There may be up to three generations per year.
Figure 2: Close up of Euonymus Scale Females and Males.
Cultural practices such as pruning out heavily infested branches—without ruining the aesthetic quality of the plant—is extremely effective in quickly reducing euonymus scale populations; especially this time of year. Be sure to immediately discard pruned branches away from the area. If feasible, avoid planting Euonymus japonica in landscapes since this species is highly susceptible to euonymus scale. Winged euonymus (Euonymus alata) is less susceptible to euonymus scale, even when adjacent plants are infested. Applications of insecticides in May through June, which is when the crawlers are most active, will help to alleviate problems with euonymus scale later in the season. Insecticides recommended for suppression of euonymus scale populations, primarily targeting the crawlers, include acephate (Orthene); pyrethroid-based insecticides such as bifenthrin (Talstar), cyfluthrin (Tempo), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar); potassium salts of fatty acids (insecticidal soap); and horticultural (petroleum or mineral-based) and neem (clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil) oils. Always regularly check plants for the presence of crawlers, which will help time insecticide applications. In general, three to four applications performed at seven to 10-day intervals may be required; however, this is dependent on the level of the infestation. Euonymus scale is a hard or armored scale, so, in most cases, soil or drench applications of systemic insecticides such as imidacloprid (Merit) are not effective in suppressing euonymus scale populations; however, the systemic insecticide dinotefuran (Safari), due to its high-water solubility (39,000 ppm), may provide suppression of euonymus scale populations when applied as a drench to the soil. Dormant oil applications can be conducted in winter to kill the overwintering mated females on stems. However, thorough coverage of all plant parts is important in order to obtain sufficient mortality.
Euonymus scale is susceptible to a variety of natural enemies (e.g. parasitoids and predators). These include braconid and ichneumonid wasps, ladybird beetles, green lacewings, and minute pirate bugs. However, natural enemies may fail to provide enough mortality (‘killing power’) to significantly impact “high” populations of euonymus scale. Furthermore, insecticides such as acephate (Orthene), and many of the pyrethroid-based insecticides, including bifenthrin (Talstar), cyfluthrin (Tempo), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar) are very harmful to most natural enemies, so applications of these materials may disrupt any natural regulation or suppression.