The most significant insect event in the past week was the reports of plant bug tolerance to all labeled or recommended insecticides in the Tennessee Valley of North Alabama. Several of our most experienced consultants are reporting that all classes of chemistry are suppressing plant bugs but their presence and damage behind applications are still above threshold levels. This has required repeated sprays and now tank mixtures with two recommended insecticides. Under these conditions, input costs for cotton insects, particularly plant bugs, make cotton an unattractive crop option going into the 2015 season. Some areas of the mid-south have been dealing with this problem for several years. At this point, the Alabama situation appears to be confined to the Tennessee Valley area.
It has been my experience that once plant bugs get embedded in rank cotton in July, they have always been difficult to control, requiring multiple applications. So now, we have insecticide tolerance in addition to a coverage issue. Looking ahead I see a larger role for the IGR Diamond during the early bloom period in future years.
Now to a quick oversight of other insect problems on cotton and other crops; stink bugs, primarily brown, are requiring controls in some cotton fields. However, overall they are not as heavy and widespread as expected. Aphids are showing back up in some fields requiring controls. Spider mites are present in many fields. It seems like we get more calls about mite control following weeks of high temperature and dry conditions.
In soybeans we are beginning to see loopers as far north as Montgomery in older beans. So far they are only at about a third of a threshold level. Scouts are reporting an occasional corn earworm and velvetbean caterpillar in the soybean mix. The same holds true for peanuts.
Fall armyworms (grass strain) are on about every crop except cotton now. Hay, grasses, peanuts, soybeans are all experiencing the need for repeated applications for FAW. We could safely say that FAW’s have about worn out their welcome, even though they are easy to control. It seems like their preferred row crop is soybeans planted in wheat stubble. Some fields are now on their third infestation and replanting has been required due to near 100% defoliation.
In many ways, 2014 has been like “old times” to Extension entomologists with numerous phone calls about when to treat and what chemical to choose. We don’t feel like step-children to the weed resistance and disease issues this season.
Scouting crops is the first step in all insect management and control programs.