Agronomic Crop Insects

Joanne Whalen, Extension IPM Specialist; jwhalen@udel.edu

Alfalfa
If you have not started to sample for alfalfa weevil, be sure to begin sampling fields on a weekly basis. Look for small larvae feeding in the tips of plants producing a round, pinhole type of feeding. Once you detect tip feeding, a full field sample should be taken. In general, no treatment should be needed before you observe 50 percent of the tips with feeding damage. A more accurate way to time an application and try to avoid multiple insecticide applications would be to sample stems and determine the number of weevils per stem. A minimum of 30 stems should be collected per field, placed top first in a bucket to dislodge larvae from the tips and then count the number of weevils 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. Numerous pyrethroids are now labeled for alfalfa weevil including Baythroid, Mustang MAX, permethrin, Proaxis and Warrior. Furadan, Imidan, Lorsban, Lannate and Steward are also labeled for alfalfa weevil control.

Field Corn
In general, black cutworm trap catches remain low. However, we have started to see an increase in catches this past week. Although no precise numbers are available, moth catches of 9 to 15 moths per 7-day period have been associated with a moderate to high potential for black cutworm outbreaks in field corn. Larvae should be large enough to begin cutting when about 300 base-50 degree-days have accumulated since peak moth activity and egg laying. Pheromone trap catches can help determine when peak moth flight and egg laying occurs; however, they cannot predict the amount or magnitude of cutting that will occur.

We can also have a number of other cutworm species present in corn fields at planting time including the dingy cutworm, claybacked cutworm and variegated cutworm. Reports from consultants indicate that they have found higher numbers of cutworms while doing soil sampling for grubs earlier this spring. Information from the Midwest indicates that the claybacked cutworms can cause economic loss in corn. They overwinter as half-grown larvae in the soil so they can get a “jump” on black cutworms when it comes to cutting each spring. Since they are larger in size earlier in the spring, this species can damage very young corn plants. So, scouting fields at plant emergence is important, even if at planting materials were used, to catch any potential problems.

Just a reminder, if you plan to tank-mix an insecticide with an herbicide for black cutworm control, it should be done at, or immediately following planting. Insecticides combined with early burn-down applications, 2-3 weeks before planting, have not provided effective control. For the most recent pheromone trap catches, be sure to check trap catches posted weekly on the University of Delaware IPM website at (http://ag.udel.edu/extension/IPM/traps/currentbcwtraps.html)

Timothy
Be sure to sample fields for cereal rust mite activity. As soon as fields green up, you should begin checking for cereal rust mites and the early signs of infested leaves, especially in fields with problems in past years. These mites are microscopic, so the use of a 20x-magnifying lens is necessary. If rust mites become a problem, Sevin XLR Plus still has a 24(c) label on timothy for rust mite management. The following is a link to the 24(c) label for Delaware. (http://www.cdms.net/ldat/ld332028.pdf). You must have this label in your possession at the time of application.

Wheat
In addition to sampling for aphids, be sure to begin sampling fields for cereal leaf beetle activity. We can find evidence of adult feeding, so fields should be scouted early for the presence of egg masses. In recent years, the threshold for cereal leaf beetle has been adjusted to include sampling for eggs, especially in high management wheat fields or areas where problems were experienced the previous year. The eggs are elliptical, about 1/32 inch long, orange to yellow in color when first laid, changing to a burnt orange prior to hatching. Check our website for pictures of cereal leaf beetle adults, larvae and eggs: http://www.udel.edu/IPM/facts/clbpictures.htm

Generally, eggs are laid singly or in small scattered groups (end-to-end) on the upper leaf surface and parallel to the leaf veins. Cereal leaf beetle larvae are brown to black, range in size from 1/32 to 1/4 inch long, and eat streaks of tissue from the upper leaf surface. 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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