Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

USA: Soybean insect problems

Delta Farm Press Daily

red banded stick bug
The red banded stink bug can be harder to control than other stink bug species

Soybean insects that may be problems for you in 2017

Here is a glimpse of the insects growers are likely to deal with along with recommendations for dealing with those pests in 2017.

Patrick R. Shepard | Dec 13, 2016

With the 2016 Mid-South soybean crop now history, regional entomologists are offering growers a glimpse of the insects they’re likely to deal with in 2017, along with recommendations for dealing with those pests.

DEC 27, 2016

LOUSIANA OUTLOOK The main insect challenges for Louisiana soybean growers are red banded stink bugs and soybean loopers. The state experienced a mild winter, and red banded stink bug populations were very high in 2016.

“Unlike the southern green stink bug and the green stink bug, the red banded stink bug doesn’t diapause during winter and migrates immediately into soybeans,” says Louisiana State University Entomologist Jeff Davis at Baton Rouge. “It feeds primarily on legumes, so we found it very early in clover throughout the state.

“The red banded stink bug is tolerant to many insecticides. Pyrethroids do a great job of cleaning out other stink bug species, but not the red banded stink bug. Bifenthrin products work very well, and acephate remains our main go-to insecticide. Some pyrethroid pre-mixes, such as Endigo and Leverage, work well, but they often flare our second major pest problem, the soybean looper. Growers can use softer chemistries for loopers, including Intrepid and Prevathon, which preserve beneficials.”Unfortunately, growers have seen control slippage throughout the Mid-South for almost all insecticide classes on soybean loopers, Davis says, noting that part of the problem is application.

“Soybean loopers feed from the inside of the internal canopy, so they’re down in the middle of the plant. If we don’t use a high water volume application, and/or if we go too fast across the field, the insecticide just stays in the top third of the canopy. We need to fine-tune our applications for better canopy penetration and better control.”

Other insect problems for Louisiana soybean growers include corn earworms in the northern part of the state. And this past season, fall armyworms built up on grasses and moved into soybeans after growers were finally able to get into the field following wet weather to spray weeds. “We had an unusually high green cloverworm population this past year; these are sometimes misidentified as soybean loopers,” Davis says.


Cover crops

More Tennessee growers are planting cover crops, which require an adjustment in insect management, particularly when the cover crops are not burned down until very near planting or after planting.

“Insects will build up and migrate into soybeans from cover crops, particularly legumes such as vetch or winter peas,” says Scott Stewart, Extension entomologist at Jackson. “Especially in those situations, I recommend growers use an insecticide seed treatment.”

The state’s kudzu bug problem continues to expand geographically, but not in intensity. “I expect further expansion if we have another mild winter,” he says. “The good news is that we have a naturally-occurring fungus that is killing them off. It has done a remarkable job, in some cases, of keeping high populations in check.

“Even though we were fortunate to have an unusually light stink bug year in 2016, we need to watch for them in 2017. We also need to keep an eye on our normal slate of defoliating caterpillars, including soybean loopers and cloverworms, and treat when population levels reach economic threshold.”

Mississippi Insects

Mississippi’s top three soybean insect problems are the stink bug complex, soybean loopers, and cotton bollworms. Severity of these pests changes, depending on the year, but typically these are the top three yield robbers for producers.

The state saw an influx of red banded stink bug from the south in 2016. This insect requires different management because it is much more damaging than common stink bugs (southern green stink bug, green stink bug, and brown stink bug). It also has a lower threshold than Mississippi’s normal stink bug species.

“The red banded stink bug is a game changer for soybeans,” says Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension entomologist at Mississippi State University. “It’s harder to control and infests fields later, compared to our regular species. We have to hit it early, often with tank mixtures such as acephate or Belay plus bifenthrin. We frequently have to come back with another application in seven days.

“The redbanded stink bug is very sensitive to cold winters, which can beat back the insect pest and we might not see it for a while. Before 2016, we hadn’t seen it at economic levels since 2009. But it must be a consideration for 2017.”

Soybean loopers are probably the state’s next most predictable pest, Catchot says. “These defoliators migrate up every year. We spray a significant amount of acreage every year, and we have a lot of chemistries that make them easy to control. However, we may be beginning to see some tolerance to the diamides (Besiege, Prevathon). They’re still working, but we’re seeing a shorter residual, and leaving more in the field than in the past. We may have to alternate with other products, such as Intrepid Edge or Steward.”

Corn earworm populations fluctuate yearly, Catchot says. “For the last eight years, Mississippi soybean growers have sprayed for some every year. The diamides are our preferred chemistry for corn earworms.”

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New pest puts banana farmers on alert

By Express News Service  |   Published: 08th February 2017 01:31 AM  |

Last Updated: 08th February 2017 06:12 AM  |   A+A-   |  

Image for representational purpose only. | express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A new variety of pest is found to be plaguing coconut and banana in the state, the Agriculture Department warned farmers on Tuesday.
The Rugose Spiralling Whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus) deposits its eggs on the underside of the leaves of coconut and banana and damages the crop. The droppings of the fly also cause damage to the leaves, resulting in less productivity from the crop. The pest was identified by P Raghunath of the College of Agriculture, Vellayani. This species of whitefly is endemic to Florida.

He urged coconut and banana farmers to be vigilant and take comprehensive precautionary measures. Leaves on which the pest attack is severe should be cut and destroyed. However, agriculture officials warned farmers against using any form of chemicals even on nearby crops. A blend of soap solution with neem oil and garlic extraction should be sprayed on the underside of the leaves. If the pest attack continues, farmers should spray a diluted solution of the KAU product verticilium.
Growing tulsi, pudina as intercrops also will help destroy the pests, the department said.

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Panhandle Ag e-News

UF/IFAS Extension

University of Florida

The Peanut Burrower Bug – an Emerging Pest in Peanuts

Xavier Martini, David Wright, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center

Burrower bugs are small Heteroptera insects with piercing/sucking mouthparts (Figure 1). There are six different species of burrower bugs that have been found to feed on peanuts. Among them, three are found in Georgia and Florida, but most of the damage has been attributed to the peanut burrower bug Pangaeus bilineatus. This species is native to Georgia, but can be found as far north as Connecticut. This species can survive up north despite the absence of peanuts, because it feeds on other plants such as cotton, peppers, strawberry, spinach, oak, peach, or pear.

Adults become active in the spring and lay eggs in the soil, while nymph activity is reported as early as mid-May. Burrower bugs spend most of their life cycle underneath the soil, feeding on mature peanut kernels and pods. Adults and nymphs feed directly on the peanut seed during the mid to late pod-fill by piercing the pods with their specialized mouth-parts.


Despite the fact that damage on peanuts has been described for decades, it is only recently that burrower bug has become a recurrent problem in peanut crops in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The peanut burrower bug damages peanut kernels directly by feeding on them. The insertion of its mouth-part in the maturing kernel produces yellow feeding spots called “pitting” (Figure 2). Additionally, the peanut burrowing bug also affects peanut quality due to an increase of peroxide levels, and a rise in aflatoxin contamination. As peanuts grown in the USA are graded according to kernel internal damage, even a slight percentage of burrower bug damage might be detrimental for growers. With more than 2.5% of kernels showing internal damage, peanut grade drops to segment 2, and the value of the peanut load is dramatically reduced.


Burrower bug infestations and damage are highly variable from year to year. It is known that hot and dry conditions increase risk of burrower bug damage. As recent spring and summer weather patterns have tended to be hotter and drier, due to climatic phases, it may explain why this bug has become a recurrent pest in peanut production in the last several years. Also, tillage protocols have shown to effect burrower bug population, with reduced tillage practices being associated with increased burrower bug densities. Additionally, the choice of winter cover crop affects burrower bug populations. Peanuts tilled into corn or wheat residues have greater burrower bug populations and higher feeding damage than peanuts tilled into rye residues.

Burrower bugs can be sampled either by the use of pitfall traps or light traps during spring and summer. The main control methods for this pest is the application of granular chlorpyrifos at planting or at pegging.  However, the EPA is currently moving forward to potentially revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos. Therefore, it is possible that, in the very near future, growers will have to turn to other insecticides such as bifenthrin, imidacloprid or lambda-cyhalothrin. However, the efficiency of these insecticides on burrowing bugs needs to be fully evaluated. Regarding biological control, the entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora has been described as a potential control agent. Cultural methods to reduced burrower bugs populations include irrigation, as this bug prefers dry conditions. Conventional tillage can also reducing burrower bug population, however, this has to be counterbalanced with the benefits of conservation tillage that include the improvement of soil tilth, the increase of organic matter, the reduction of water evaporation, and the reduction of soil erosion.

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CABI Invasives Blog

The locust invasions devastating Niger


It is the end of December 2016, with clear skies over Niger. But as 2017 draws near prospects are grim for some 500 residents in Bani Kosseye, a village 80km from the capital Niamey. Agricultural production has been poor here, and families’ meagre stocks are expected to run out within a few weeks. People already fear famine.The main cause for this food stress is none other than locusts. The damage the tiny insects cause to agriculture means they have become public enemy number one in the fields and pastures of this Sahel country.

The various institutions set up to combat the locust threat in Niger classify the insects into two main groups: desert locusts and grasshoppers. There is a third category, migratory locusts, but experts in Niger say these are not a significant threat.

Desert locusts, on the other hand — which are associated with the eighth biblical plague — have the ability to swarm into several dozen million individuals capable of travelling long distances across several countries to devastate fields. The 2003-2005 invasion affected 20 countries across northern Africa and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.

According to the preamble of Niger’s Locust Risk Management Plan, during a massive locust invasion swarms of desert locusts may invade “an area of 29 million square kilometres where 1.3bn people live, stretching from Africa’s Atlantic coast in the northern hemisphere to the Indo-Pakistani border, and from the Mediterranean to the Equator”.

Idrissa Maiga, a locust expert at the Agrhymet Regional Centre in Niamey, says “it is a species with an extraordinary reproductive capacity. Females may lay eggs several times during their lifetime and each female lays between 80 and 100 eggs.”

And how voracious are they? “Each individual is capable of eating its own weight in vegetable matter per day,” the entomologist says. “This means that each individual can eat up to two grams of fresh material per day.”

“Therefore, if a swarm of dozens or hundreds of millions of individuals zooms in on a crop, it only takes them between 15 and 30 minutes to destroy fresh material in the area,” Maiga says.

Millions of hectares destroyed

Some desert locust specialists, who are quoted in a technical note by Niger’s locust monitoring system (published in December 2016, in French) even say that “in theory, a swarm covering a 25-square-kilometre area with a density of 100 insects per square meter, may eat as much grass as 50,000 heads of cattle.”

The director general of the National Locust Control Centre (CNLA), Abou Moumouni, says Niger paid a very heavy price for the 2003/2005 locust invasion.

“3,755 villages had a 27 per cent cereal shortfall equivalent to about 223,487 tonnes,” he says. “This deficit, caused by the dual effects of drought and desert locusts, led to a 4.47million-tonne drop in food production.”

The situation is very worrying for Niger which is, with Mauritania, Mali and Chad, one of the so-called frontline states (a loose coalition of African states) in West and Central Africa. They are countries where outbreaks occur, the insects live on a permanent basis and can reproduce, forming swarms and invading crops — if the process is not interrupted.

In Niger, this happens in the regions of Aïr and Tamesna and, to a lesser degree, in the pastures in the Sahel, which is a summer reproduction area.

Fortunately, the country and the region do not face an invasion every year. “Over the past 30 years, there have only been three desert locust invasions: in 1988, 2003-5 and 2012,” says Moudy Mamane Sani, the director general of vegetable protection at Niger’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

However, the effects of these past invasions are felt for a long time. According to the CNLA, 1.25 million hectares of crops were destroyed in Niger during the 1988 invasion, which affected a total of 26 million hectares of crops in 23 countries
But this is not all. “Following the 2003-2005 crisis, nearly 4,000 villages in Niger were abandoned by residents who had lost their crops. This led to the exodus of these people from their villages to cities,” Moumouni says.

“Growers do not have anything but their production,” he says. “Where desert locusts go, they do not leave anything behind.”

He explains that growers who have lost their crops, and pastures that support their cattle, no longer have any capital; and all they can do is go to urban centres, look for a job and rebuild their lives until the following agricultural season.

Grasshopper threat 

However, for the residents of Bani Kosseye village, it is grasshoppers that are behind the distress, not a new invasion of desert locusts. “These are sedentary locusts which, unlike desert locusts, are not capable of gathering gregariously to form large swarms,” Maiga says.

Among these are Senegalese locusts, which Maiga says are particularly harmful for cereal crops, millet especially.

The fact of the matter is that grasshoppers also have a great capacity for harm in the fields. “Attacks by grasshoppers may take place at various stages of plant growth,” says Djibo Bagna, a farmer and the chairman of the executive board of Niger’s Farmers Platform.

“Once they have attacked seedlings, they move on to young plants. If they do not show up after seedlings have been attacked, it means they are waiting for plants to develop so they can attack leaves. [As a result] you will find stalks that are totally ‘naked’ and that will not yield anything at all,” he says.

“Grasshoppers even attack the ears [of cereal plants] and eat seeds which have not yet reached maturity. So you will see ears but there is almost nothing inside,” Bagna concludes.

This is more or less what the residents of Bani Kosseye experienced during the 2016 agricultural season. “Locusts appeared when the millet started flowering, both at heading time (when flower or seed heads start to show) and when seeds appeared,” says Issaka Arouna, a local farmer.

“We began fighting them even before the arrival of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock,” Arouna says.

Grasshopper infestations 

That particular fight was lost. It failed to prevent the risk of a food crisis, which is now dreaded in the village: “Can’t you see that empty granary over there,” says Arouna as he asks a young man to open one of the granaries of the village.

There is not much inside: ears of millet, some with sparse kernels, barely cover the floor area. “This is the crop of ten people you can see here,” the old man says with a stern expression.

This meagre crop is evidence that the threat of grasshoppers is far from negligible. “In fact, Senegalese locusts cause even more damage to millet in any one season than desert locusts do,” Idrissa Maiga says.

The species is particularly dangerous because it is endemic. “This is a situation we face on an almost yearly basis,” says Sani “During every agricultural season we are confronted with grasshoppers, and the seriousness of the situation varies from one season to another,” he says.

“This year, for instance, we have had many cases of grasshopper infestations, including in the Tilabéri, Zinder and Maradi regions,” Sani says.

Vulnerable countries 

Desperate times call for desperate measures — so countries which are most vulnerable to desert locust invasions have asked FAO (the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation) to coordinate prevention and response campaigns nationally, regionally and internationally. As a result, FAO has set up a special body in each region.

In Western and Northwestern Africa, which includes Niger, the body in question is the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in Western Africa (CLCPRO), which was set up in 2000. Each of its ten member states (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia) has pledged to set up on its territory a national desert locust control unit.

In Niger, the unit was set up in 2007. It is called the National Locust Control Center (CNLA), with headquarters in Niamey and a main operational base in Agadez, a city chosen for its proximity to outbreak areas.

“During remission periods, such as now, when there is no invasion and when locusts are in gregarious areas, the CNLA is tasked with leading monitoring operations,” Moumouni told SciDev.Net.

He says monitoring involves carrying out insecticide treatments as soon as the number of locusts reaches a certain level in order to confine them to gregarious areas.

“During invasions, the CNLA is tasked with preparing action plans as well as coordinating and evaluating response operations together with the Directorate for Plant Protection (DGPV) because we have limited means and personnel,” Moumouni says.

The directorate, part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, is also in charge of other types of locusts and pests, including grasshoppers.

Both bodies have opted for prevention as a strategy, spurred on by FAO which stated in 2006 that “when you look at the cost of response operations for the CLCPRO, you realise that expenses incurred to overcome the 2003-2005 invasion could have funded 170 years’ worth of prevention.”

Prevention is also driven by the economic, social and environmental impact of operations carried out as a result of the 2003/2005 invasion. “Thirteen million litres of pesticides were needed to overcome it. It cost more than half a billion dollars and caused crop losses worth more than $2.5 billion,” according to the FAO document.

Locust information network

As a result, steps are being taken in Niger to prevent invasions, and they involve both growers themselves as well as officials.

“We have growers whom we call brigadiers,” says Djbo Bagna, a farmer and the chairman of the executive board of Niger’s Farmers Platform. “We have already trained them to use pesticides and to alert technical services when the situation gets out of hand.”

“We have a locust information network,” adds the CNLA’s Moumouni.  “For gregarious areas, we have trained nomads, the military and all community leaders so they can inform us as soon as they spot a locust.”

He says information is fed into the monitoring activities of the CNLA, which sends teams to these areas on a monthly basis to evaluate the situation before a decision can be made. The evaluation takes the weather into account, as it too affects the development and reproduction of locusts.

The presence of locusts does not necessarily mean that we will have to go and spray [pesticides],” he says. “There is an intervention threshold. As soon as there are 500 adult individuals or between 3,000 and 5,000 small larvae per hectare, an intervention is needed for numbers to come down.”

Agricultural aircraft

“The DGPV’s Sani says that “in the case of localised infestations over several hectares, growers themselves intervene quickly in their fields with portable sprayers to solve the problem.”

“When the situation reaches a certain threshold, it is a matter for decentralised services at local or regional level who have spraying machines fitted to vehicles and who can treat several hectares per day,” he explains. “Air operations are conducted when infestations reach several thousand hectares.”

Sani says Niger has an airbase with three agricultural aircraft to deal with large-scale infestations.

In addition to aircraft, biopesticide products have been designed to assist with the response. Green Muscle, for example, was developed by Chris Prior and David Greathead, two scientists with CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International).

Neither Green Muscle nor any chemical pesticide will remove the threat. But with adequate monitoring of locust and grasshopper numbers — especially when they have just been born and before they become adults — Green Muscle may be able to control the number of locusts and grasshoppers, preventing them from becoming a threat for crops and human lives,” says Belinda Luke, a CABI biopesticide scientist.

The biopesticide is now sold by BASF but Luke says CABI is available to those needing advice to make the best use of the pesticide.

Monitoring and response

However, like those leading locust control in Niger, she believes monitoring remains the most effective weapon against desert locusts. “We need eyes in fields to monitor the number of locusts in order to be able to treat them with Green Muscle as soon as necessary.”

Meanwhile, research continues and Niger has the advantage of being the home of the Agrhymet Regional Centre, which was set up by the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) to “inform and provide training on food security, the fight against desertification and water management in the Sahel and Western Africa”.

Among other facilities, the Agrhymet Centre has an insectarium where locusts are raised for the purposes of scientific work. The institution was set up to serve the 13 member countries of the CILSS, but “offers Niger a benefit given that everything it develops as a decision support tool or any information it provides is first implemented in the nearest countries, i.e. in Niger,” says entomologist Maiga.

“It goes without saying that our cooperation with Niger’s national technical services in charge of the locust threat is much closer owing to this proximity,” he says.

Yet despite this mechanism, it does happen quite often that there is no immediate response when the alarm is raised. That is precisely what occurred in Bani Kosseye during the latest agricultural season. Locals are still reeling from the fact that technical services failed to intervene as soon as they raised the alarm.

Both the DGPV and the CNLA cite reasons to do with the unavailability of financial means, the procedure for making a military escort available for teams, and a shortage of staff in charge of monitoring and intervention in several places at the same time. These difficulties have given rise to the idea of using drones in the near future, in a bid to increase the efficiency of prevention and intervention operations.

Meanwhile, villagers are making do. “We have a traditional method whereby we light small fires around fields because locusts fly away when there is smoke,” says Arouna, from Bani Kosseye.

Unfortunately, this method was inadequate to protect crops during the 2016 agricultural season.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article→

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CABI Plantwise Blog

Myzus persicae (green peach aphid); an alate (winged) adult

Myzus persicae (green peach aphid); an alate (winged) adult

Recent research highlights why the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) is one of the most successful crop pests. These findings will help further the development of effective management and control measures which will ultimately reduce worldwide crop losses.

The green peach aphid is one of the most challenging crop pests, living on hundreds of host plants in over 40 families. This makes it an impressive generalist compared to many other aphids, a large number of which are only adapted to survive on one species. Key crops impacted by this pest include sugar beet, beans, potato, tomato and oilseed rape.

So how can it be such a wide ranging generalist? Recent research, carried out by the Earlham Institute (EI) and John Innes Centre (JIC) in the UK, has found that its ability to survive on so many hosts is largely down to its genetic plasticity (Mathers et al., 2017). After just two days, scientists were able to see that genes responsible for helping aphids adjust to different plants rapidly increased or decreased in activity when an individual was moved to a different host.

Interestingly, it seems that many of the genes involved are not specific to this species of aphid, but that the green peach aphid is just particularly well adapted to adjusting to the expression of the key genes.

Not only can it adapt well to different hosts, the pest transmits over 100 plant virus diseases, including Beet western yellows virus, Bean leaf roll virus and Potato leaf roll virus. Losses caused by these plant diseases can be very high – sugarbeet losses due to beet yellows can be up to 50%. Furthermore, the green peach aphid has developed resistance to over 70 different pesticides, making it difficult to control.

Then there’s its ability to reproduce prolifically. Females can give birth to females without mating with a male (clonal reproduction). Consequently green peach aphids can have up to 30 generations a year (Texas A&M University, 2017).

All in all, it’s no wonder that the green peach aphid is such an incredibly successful pest, unfortunately causing major widespread damage every year. This latest research is a significant step towards understanding how the pest is so successful, paving the way for more effective management and control methods.

For more information, read How to be a successful pest: lessons from the green peach aphid by the Earlham Institute.

You can also find out information regarding the green peach aphid on our Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

CABI, 2017. Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae). In: Plantwise Knowledge Bank. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. http://www.plantwise.org/knowledgebank/datasheet.aspx?dsid=35642

Earlham Institute, 2017. How to be a successful pest: lessons from the green peach aphid. UK: Earlham Institute. http://www.earlham.ac.uk/how-be-successful-pest-lessons-green-peach-aphid

Mathers TC, Chen Y, Kaithakottil G et al., 2017. Rapid transcriptional plasticity of duplicated gene clusters enables a clonally reproducing aphid to colonise diverse plant species. Genome Biology, 18:27.

Texas A&M University, 2017. Green Peach Aphid. In: Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Series. Texas, USA: Texas A&M University. http://texasinsects.tamu.edu/aimg103.html

Visit the Plantwise website

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Scientific Modeling Helps Defend Tomatoes Against Flying Foe

January 31, 2017
IPM Innovation Lab Director Muni Muniappan inspects tomatoes damaged by Tuta absoluta in Puranchaur, Nepal. The pest was first reported in the country in spring of 2016, and it is already promising to be a big problem for the upcoming tomato-growing season.

Tomatoes are so abundant that they can be easy to take for granted. But a pest known as the South American tomato leafminer, or Tuta absoluta, has been making this popular ingredient harder to find in countries throughout the world. The tomato leafminer hasn’t arrived in the United States yet, but it has made it as far north as Costa Rica. Now, most scientists agree, it’s no longer a question of if this pest will arrive, but when.

“People want to know when Tuta will be in the United States,” said Muni Muniappan, director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, led by Virginia Tech University. “It could be in 1 year or 10 years, but eventually it will be here.”

Fresh and processed tomatoes generated $2 billion dollars in the United States in 2015 and tomato exports totaled $335 million, making America the seventh largest tomato-producing country in the world. An invasion by the tomato leafminer could put a serious dent in those numbers.

Muniappan and the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab have been working to combat the pest since it hitched a ride to Spain in 2006, where it then spread through Europe and the Mediterranean and into Central and South Asia and parts of Africa.

“There is no silver bullet for Tuta absoluta,” Muniappan said. “We cannot stop it, but we can slow it down.”

Under these circumstances, the best way to protect countries that have not been reached by the pest is to delay its arrival and increase awareness about it. Then, if it does arrive, the key is to limit its damage with a quick response.

To keep the pest out of America for as long as possible, the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab is helping monitor Tuta absouta and assist states in using pheromone traps for early detection. It is also working with Costa Rica to suppress the pest and prevent its northward spread.

When the pest does inevitably enter the United States, quarantine measures will be necessary. To this end, the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab recently gave funding to Virginia Tech’s Biocomplexity Institute to model the spread of Tuta absoluta, using human movement as a variable. Most models use only temperature and weather patterns as predictors of disease and pest spread, but the model developed through this project will also consider popular trade and travel routes.

“Our model will be an extremely useful tool to develop strategies to combat these pests,” said Abhijin Adiga, a research faculty member at the Biocomplexity Institute and project lead. “Further, the methodology will not be limited to studying the tomato leafminer but can be applied to any agricultural invasive species.”

Muniappan and the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab are raising awareness in America and around the world about the pest. So far, they’ve held 16 international awareness workshops, reaching scientists from 55 countries. At the International Congress of Entomology in October 2016 in Florida, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab led a symposium, resulting in the group recommending several measures, such as undertaking a concentrated effort to look for natural enemies in Tuta’s area of origin in South America and providing information on appropriate insecticide rotations for pest management in the fields.

“With proactive actions,” Muniappan said, “we hope to significantly reduce the economic loss caused by this pest in the United States and around the world.”

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Farm Press

From whiteflies in southern Georgia to bollworms in North Carolina to plant bugs in Virginia, 2016 was certainly a challenging insect year for cotton growers across the Southeast, and 2017 is expected to be no different.

John Hart | Feb 08, 2017

From whiteflies in southern Georgia to bollworms in North Carolina to plant bugs in Virginia, 2016 was a challenging insect year for cotton growers across the Southeast. Dominic Reisig is urging farmers to be prepared for another challenging year.

Reisig, North Carolina State University Extension entomologist, addressed “Emerging Insect Issues in the Southeast” at the annual meeting of the Southern Cotton Growers and Southeastern Cotton Ginners in Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 20, where he provided an insect situation, outlook report and control recommendations.

“Thrips are probably our biggest pest problem in the upper Southeast. When you think about the tough environment you have to plant cotton in early season, the conditions can be brutal,” Reisig said.

With the loss of Temik, North Carolina farmers thought they had a good replacement for thrips control with the use of an infurrow application of Admire Pro along with an insecticidal seed treatment.

“One of the things we are preaching to our growers is to load up on active ingredients,” Reisig said. “We think seed treatments still have value even though we have this resistance situation. We’re recommending to our growers still use these insecticides but don’t expect them to perform as they have in the past.”

“Injury is a function of weather: how fast is that plant goring to grow, how many thrips are out there,” Reisig explained. “This model will actually predict when thrips are dispersing and when they are going to be on the plant and what’s the weather going to do. It will give you a red light or a green light, those are the different planting dates. We’re going to be able to tell growers if at this location you plant cotton at this date, you’re going to be safe from thrips.”

As for whiteflies in Georgia, Reisig said a new species has been detected, the silver leaf whitefly which is difficult to control and requires the use of expensive insecticides, compared to the more common banded wing whitefly which is easier to control.

“The problem with whiteflies is they are not mobile,” Reisig said. “They stick on the bottom of the leaves and tap into the veins of the plant and they basically get too much sugar. They drop it onto the cotton and cause a great deal of loss that way. When the cotton opens up, the lint get colonized and black mold or sooty mold makes the cotton sticky.”

In North Carolina, bollworms were a major midseason pest in 2016 due the increased planting of corn relative to cotton. Reisig explains the cotton bollworm uses corn as an early season host. “If there’s a lot of early season hosts out there, you’re probably going to get a lot of cotton bollworm coming out of the corn and moving into your cotton,” he noted.

In addition, true Bt resistance in cotton is becoming a problem. However, Reisig said Bt cotton still has a place because it delivers other advantages such as excellent tobacco budworm control.

Finally, Reisig notes that plant bugs have now moved into Virginia in addition to becoming a bigger issue in North Carolina.

“When I started in 2009, I was told plant bugs were not an issue in North Carolina cotton. They have become an increasing issue year after year and we’re not exactly sure why,” he said.

“In northeastern North Carolina, plant bugs are a problem in nearly every field. Three-fourths of our fields are getting sprayed for plant bugs. We’ve increased the number of sprays on the fields, averaging two sprays for every field.”

Reisig believes plant bugs are showing resistance to pyretheroids in North Carolina which is why rotating chemistries is critical. In addition, plant bugs are liked to bollworms in cotton

“For a pest like plant bugs, what you really want to do is you want to control it early season before cotton blooms because a plant bug uses its mouth parts to feed on a square,” Reisig explained. “If it feeds on a square, the square will fall off and you won’t have any flowers left to make bolls. When you spray cotton early season to control plant bugs, you knock out natural enemies that then control bollworms later on in the season.”

Reisig is recommending the insecticide Diamond for plant bug control this year. “Diamond is a unique chemistry because it is an insect growth regulator. Insect growth regulators are only active on nymphs but they tend in the Mid-South to extend the period of control so you don’t have to spray as much,” he said.

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