Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aphids and bug complex building, fall armyworms in second generation in pastures, fleahoppers appear

We’re getting more reports of aphids building in cotton. They’ve been slow to increase but still have reached treatable levels in some fields. While we were doing our beat sheets last week, I noticed in some of the older cotton that immature brown stink bugs were turning up where we had adult brown stink bugs earlier. So, they’ve been in there long enough now to turn over a generation. Most of the plant bug population right now are in immature forms coming off of the June adults. Fields that were sprayed for bugs appear to be pretty clean, but others have populations now that are at or will shortly be at damaging levels, so we’re really close to making applications to clean up the bug complex on everything.

We’re still not seeing signs of the huge tobacco budworm flight that was underway in southwest Georgia 2 weeks ago. It’s amazing how fast budworm activity drops off as you travel 2 counties west into Alabama. We have a long history of similar patterns – heavy pressure in south Georgia but hardly anything in southeast Alabama. We’re into the second generation of fall armyworms, the grass strain, in coastal Bermuda and other hay fields in southeast Alabama.

The garden fleahopper has been causing damage in a 25-acre cotton field in Mobile County. This is the first time I’ve seen the pest in cotton in the 39 years I’ve been working the crop and didn’t know for sure what the insect was when a consultant emailed me samples of the pest and damage. But Mississippi State University recently released an excellent color insect guide for cotton, and the garden fleahopper was included in it, which allowed me to ID the insect. Evidently, it’s been enough of a pest at some point in Mississippi cotton that it made the book.

I have a feeling we’ll see a lot of brown stink bugs in soybeans when they start setting pods. They’re certainly nearby, although probably not in soybeans to any degree yet. Stink bugs are smart enough that they won’t hang around too long in a crop that doesn’t provide a food source. Typically, they’ll leave corn within a week of when it starts drying down and, as if on cue, they’ll shift into soybeans when they start setting pods. We’re following a population of them right now at our Gulf Coast research station.