Agronomic Crop Insects – April 8, 2011

Joanne Whalen, Extension IPM Specialist;

Be sure to watch for an increase in levels of alfalfa weevil and pea aphids. Both can be found in fields at this time. When sampling for aphids and weevils, collect a minimum of 30 random stems throughout a field and place them top first in a white bucket. For aphids, you want to count the number present per plant as well as any that have dislodged from the stem into the bucket. As a general guideline, you should consider a treatment in alfalfa less than 10 inches tall if you find 40-50 aphids per stem. The treatment threshold for alfalfa 10 inches or taller in height is 75- 100 per stem. Although beneficial insects can help to crash aphid populations, cooler temperatures will slow their activity. As a general rule, you need one beneficial insect per every 50-100 aphids to help crash populations. For alfalfa weevil, you will also want to record the number of weevil larvae per stem. The following thresholds, based on the height of the alfalfa, should be used as a guideline when making a treatment decision: up to 11 inches tall – 0.7 per stem; 12 inches tall – 1.0 per stem; 13 – 15 inches tall – 1.5 per stem; 16 inches tall – 2.0 per stem and 17 – 18 inches tall – 2.5 per stem.

Low levels of aphids and cereal leaf beetle adults can be found in fields throughout the state. Since we are past the prime time for barley yellow dwarf transmission (fall transmission is the most important), the next important time to consider aphid management in small grains is at grain head emergence. Since cereal leaf beetle populations are often unevenly distributed within the field, it is important to carefully sample fields so that you do not over or under estimate a potential problem. Eggs and small larvae should be sampled by examining 10 tillers from 10 evenly spaced locations in the field while avoiding field edges. This will result in 100 tillers (stems) per field being examined. Eggs and larvae may be found on leaves near the ground so careful examination is critical. You should also check stems at random while walking through a major portion of the field and sampling 100 stems. The treatment threshold is 25 or more eggs and/or small larvae per 100 tillers. If you are using this threshold, it is important that you wait until at least 50% are in the larval stage (i.e. after 50% egg hatch).

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