Insect Strip

Insect Strip

Friday, March 31, 2017

EPA Is not revoking Chlorpyrifos tolerances

In a news release March 29 by EPA the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an order that denies a petition to revoke any tolerances for the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which would have cancelled all chlorpyrifos registrations. EPA Administrator Pruitt said, “We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment. By reversing the previous Administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision making - rather than predetermined results.” 
Sheryl Kunickis, director of the Office of Pest Management Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said “This is a welcome decision grounded in evidence and science. It means that this important pest management tool will remain available to growers, helping to ensure an abundant and affordable food supply for this nation and the world. This frees American farmers from significant trade disruptions that could have been caused by an unnecessary, unilateral revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances in the United States. It is also great news for consumers, who will continue to have access to a full range of both domestic and imported fruits and vegetables. We thank our colleagues at EPA for their hard work.”
For over a decade EPA has placed numerous restrictions on pesticide products containing chlorpyrifos to address health and environmental risks from chlorpyrifos exposure. Some of the restrictions eliminated all homeowner uses, except for use in ant and roach baits in child-resistant packaging and uses for fire ant mounds and as a termiticide (June 2000). Limitations and restrictions were placed on such uses as for apples, grapes, citrus and tree nuts and discontinued uses on tomatoes. In 2012, EPA lowered pesticide application rates for some uses and created “no-spray” buffer zones around certain public spaces. All previous restrictions and limitations are probably still in place. 
This order means that EPA will not proceed at this time with any restriction for chlorpyrifos or changes to U.S. tolerances. “Instead, EPA announced that it will focus its attention on updating and revising its human health assessment for chlorpyrifos under the standard procedures of the Registration Review process scheduled for completion on October 1, 2022 in order to support future decision making,” said Phil Jost, Dow AgroSciences, U.S. Insecticides Marketing Leader.  
Link to Press release by EPA:

Link to EPA order:  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Wheat Pests to be Watching For

With the warm weather wheat pests are starting to become active. So, now is the time to be scouting fields for those developing or damaging pest infestations. Since we have had a relatively mild dry winter wheat pest such as greenbugs, bird cherry-oat aphids, Russian wheat aphids, brown wheat mites, and wheat curl mites could be pests of concern. 

Greenbug and Bird cherry-oat aphid
The greenbug and bird cherry-oat aphid are most likely to be found together, but one of the aphids may be more abundant than the other aphid. The greenbug is light green and has a characteristic darker green stripe down its back. Greenbugs inject a toxin when feeding causing localized reddish spots on leaves, but under heavy infestations yellow and irregular shaped patches can spread across the field.

The bird cherry-oat aphid can be yellowish-green to a dark green or almost black in color. With the use of a hand lens there can be seen a reddish-orange area at the base of the abdomen around the cornicles. Feeding from the bird cherry-oat aphid does not cause any visible damage.

Greenbugs and Damage
Photo: Alton N. Sparks Jr., University of Georgia,
Bird Cherry-Oat Aphid
Photo: Erin Hodgson, Iowa State University
Sampling Fields. Since lady beetles and parasitic wasps (shown below) are also active now and could help control aphids naturally, fields should be inspected and decisions to treat should be based on threshold levels. The “Glance ’n Go” sampling system (, as developed by Oklahoma State University and USDA-ARS, is a good tool for determining if greenbug or Russian wheat aphid infestations are at treatable levels. This sampling method takes into account the presence of parasitic wasp mummies when recommending treatment decisions. Our standard action threshold table for greenbugs can still be used for determining the need for a treatment, but it does not account for treatment costs and value of the crop. When using this action threshold take into account that when there are one to two lady beetles (adults and larvae) per foot of row, or 15 to 20 percent of the greenbugs have been parasitized, control measures should be delayed until you can determine whether the greenbug population is continuing to increase or declining. 

Lysiphlebus testaceipes
Photo: Jack Kelly Clark, University of California

Greenbugs and aphid mummies

Action Threshold Table for Greenbugs
Plant Height (inches)
Number of greenbugs per linear foot
3 - 6
100 - 300
4 - 8
200 - 400
6 - 16
300 - 800

Oklahoma State University along with South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota have conducted studies that indicate bird cherry-oat aphids can cause from 5-9% yield loss from 20-40 aphids per tiller before wheat reaches the boot stage. The following procedure and table from Dr. Tom Royer, Oklahoma State University, can be used to calculate when bird cherry-oat aphid infestations should be treated:

Brown Wheat Mite
Our above normal temperatures and dry conditions are ideal for the heavy buildup of brown wheat mite. They actively feed on the wheat foliage on clear warm days, particularly during the mid-afternoon, and look like black specks moving on the leaves. At night they move down to the soil. A distinguishing trait for identifying these mites is the front legs which are about twice as long as their body. The life cycle from egg to adult is completed in just 10 to 14 days. All Brown wheat mite life stages are females (no males). They feed by piercing plant cells in the leaf that causes “stippling” leaf discoloration. Under heavy infestations plants become yellow, then dry out and die. When to treat for infestations is difficult because drought stress can severely reduce crop yields, making treats uneconomical. For most situations dryland wheat fields have more problems but with our dry conditions limited irrigated fields could be infested. In this situation an irrigation should reduce the mite population without a need for a miticide application. When the field becomes moisture stressed again mites may re-infest the field. Unfortunately a good economic threshold is not currently available for determining when to treat. A rule of thumb for treating in early spring is when there are several hundred mites per foot of row, or 25-50 mites per leaf. If we were able to get a hard driving rain this would control the mite infestations. 

Brown Wheat Mite
Photo: C. Patrick

Brown wheat mite damage to under irrigated wheat
Photo: C. Patrick

Pest Control
Insecticide products commonly used on the Texas High Plains for control of brown wheat mites is primarily dimethoate and, generally, chlorpyrifos for greenbug, Russian wheat aphid, and other aphids. Each will provide effective control but the pre-harvest interval may be important depending on harvesting for grain, grazing, and cutting for forage.

Chlorpyrifos 4E(many different products)
1/2 to 1 pt/A Aphids (including greenbugs, bird cherry-oat aphid, Russian wheat aphids) and  Brown wheat mites
Do not apply within 14 days of harvest for forage and hay and within 28 days of harvest for grain and straw. Do not allow livestock to graze or feed on treated forage within 14 days of application.
Cobalt and Cobalt Advanced (chlorpyrifos plus gamma-cyhalothrin)
7-13 fl. oz./A (including greenbugs, bird cherry-oat aphid, Russian wheat aphids) and  Brown wheat mites
Do not apply within 14 days before harvest for forage and hay and within 30 days before harvest for grain and straw.Do not allow meat or dairy animals to graze or otherwise feed on treated forage within 7 days after last treatment.
Dimethoate 2.67
0.75 to 1.13 pts/A (Aphids-greenbugs)
0.75 to 1.5 pts/A (Brown wheat mites)
Harvest for grain - 35 days
Do not apply within 14 days of grazing
Dimethoate 4E and Dimethoate 400
1/2 to 3/4 pt/A (Aphids-greenbugs)
1/3 to 1/2 pt/A (Brown wheat mites)
Harvest for grain - 35 days
Do not apply within 14 days of grazing (some labels do not have this statement)
Proaxis (gamma-cyhalothrin)

Declare (gamma-cyhalothrin)
3.84 fl. oz./A (greenbug and mite spp.)
2.56 -3.84 fl. oz./A (bird cherry-oat aphid, Russian wheat aphid)

1.54 fl. oz./A (greenbug and mite spp.)
1.02 - 1.54 fl. oz./A bird cherry-oat aphid, Russian wheat aphid)
Do not apply within 30 days of harvest. Do not allow livestock to graze in treated areas or harvest treated wheat forage as feed for meat or dairy animals within 7 days after last treatment. Do not feed treated straw to meat or dairy animals within 30 days after the last treatment. Greenbug is known to have many biotypes. DECLARE  and PROAXIS may provide suppression only.
Karate with Zeon technology (lambda-cyhalothrin)

Warrior with Zeon technology (lambda-cyhalothrin)
1.92 fl. oz./A  (greenbug and mite app.)
1.28-1.92 fl. oz./A  (bird cherry-oat aphid, Russian wheat aphid)

3.84 fl. oz./A (greenbug and mite app.)
2.56 - 3.84 fl. oz/A (bird cherry-oat aphid, Russian wheat aphid)
Do not apply within 30 days of harvest. Do not allow livestock to graze in treated areas or harvest treated wheat forage as feed for meat or dairy animals within 7 days after last treatment. Do not feed treated straw to meat or dairy animals within 30 days after the last treatment. Greenbug is known to have many biotypes. KARATE with Zeon technology  and WARRIOR with Zeon technology  may provide suppression only.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fall Wheat Pest Report

Fall Armyworm
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), which has been a pest in sorghum on the Texas High Plains is now causing problems in seedling wheat. When scouting there may be small to large “worms” due to overlapping generations and moth activity for egg laying. The potential of continuing to have fall armyworms is very likely until there is a killing freeze. 

Description and Biology
The larvae are usually shades of brown but may also be greenish to nearly black. Four distinct black spots are on top of the eighth abdominal segment, and a white inverted Y is on the front of the head. Mature larvae are 11⁄2 inches long. In addition to small grains, fall armyworms feed on corn, grain sorghum, sorghum grass hybrids, peanuts, alfalfa, cowpeas and cotton.
Fall armyworm moths may deposit egg masses on leaves of seedling small grains. There are 6 caterpillar life stages (instars) from when the larva hatches to when it pupates. This will take approximately 14 days under summer temperatures to 30 days under cooler conditions. Small larvae feed on the leaf tissue, creating tiny “window panes” in the leaves. Larger larvae consume entire leaves and can completely eat the plant to the ground causing severe stand losses. The larvae are generally more active on the plant in the morning and evening. 

Photo by: Pat Porter

Photo by: Pat Porter

Fall Armyworm Larval Consumption Rate
Life Stage
Larval Length
% Total Consumption
1/16 in.
1/8 in.
1/4 in.
3/8 in.
5/8 in.
1 1/4 in.

When making decisions on whether to treat consider the following questions?
  • Do you already have a marginal stand?
  • Are you growing wheat for grazing or for grain? If it is for grazing then preventing stand losses will be important.
  • What is the cost of replanting compared to application costs?
  • What is the outlook for a killing freeze?
  • What is the infestation level, the size of the larvae, growth stage of the wheat, and damage symptoms? If larvae are small they will not be consuming as much as large larvae and there may be a few days before there is much leaf or any stand losses. But if the larvae are larger the amount of leaf loss or stand losses will occur very quickly. Of course these losses should occur sooner to seedling wheat than to wheat that was planted earlier. Scouting becomes very important to know what level of damage there is and what is the size of the larvae from one sample time to the next. Therefore, it is difficult to use a set number of worms per length of drill row as a threshold guideline. Still most individuals want something to go by. One might consider using two to three fall armyworms per linear foot of row, but keep in mind the factors just mentioned.
  • Control is more effective when the larvae are less than 1/2 inch in length. For control of fall armyworm in wheat, the choices in terms of active ingredient are primarily:
Chlorpyrifos (Lorsban, Nufos, and other generic products)  
Pyrethroids, including Baythoid XL, Karate or Warrior with Zeon , Proaxis or Declare, Fastac, Mustang Max
Combination of a Pyrethroid plus chlorpyrifos.  These include Cobalt and Stallion
Prevathon, Spinosad (Blackhawk replaces Tracer).

Of these, Prevathon would provide the longest residual control but will be the most expensive.  There is some concern that the  Pyrethroid alone may not be effective against fall armyworm as they are not very effective in sorghum.  However, the pyrethroids are effective against FAW in bermudagrass hay and on small grains in other areas in Texas.   The pyrethroid alone would be the least expensive.  The combination products, Cobalt and Stallion, would be a good choice if the pyrethroid alone did not do well.  These combination products would also provide control of any greenbugs that might be present.  However, some of the pyrethroids, Declare, Proaxis, etc, are labeled for greenbug control, so alone these could be effective against both pests. The labeled rate of chlorpyrifos may not be as effective as the chlorpyrifos combination products.
Since fall armyworm infestations cause sporadic damage to wheat, it is difficult to conduct efficacy trials with the products and, therefore, we do not have data for how effect these products are on the Texas High Plains. But, the following are what products/rates some individuals are using with a few comments about control. Chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) has been applied at 1 qt./A because lower rates were not effective, but this is an off label rate. Also, one individual stated the 1 qt. rate used on a field did not kill larger sized larvae. Another individual is using Lorsban @ 4 oz/A (1/4 pt) plus Mustang Max @ 4 oz/A. No comments about control. Prevathon has been used at 12 oz/A and 14 oz/A with what is considered good control of all size larvae. And an individual is considering using Prevathon @ 8 oz/A for small larvae and 10 oz/A for larvae larger than 1/2 inch. We have no other information about other products.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Reports of Heavy Infestations of Green Cloverworms in Alfalfa and Soybeans

Dr. Pat Porter reported yesterday about heavy infestations of the green cloverworm in alfalfa and soybeans (, The following is the article that he published in "Focus on Entomology". One of the fields he got a call about was near Clarendon. Blayne Reed, Extension Agent - IPM, also, reported finding heavy infestations in soybean fields in Floyd county. I have not heard of any other fields in the Panhandle but there is high probability that the fields are infested.
Posted: 08 Sep 2016 04:33 PM PDT
If you are growing soybeans or alfalfa on the Texas High Plains it would be a good idea to scout for green cloverworms. I was in a soybean field near Ralls earlier in the week that had approximately 8 larvae per plant, and I just got a call about soybeans near Clarendon that were heavily infested.

In both cases the people making the reports thought the worms were soybean loopers. It is easy to tell the two caterpillars apart because loopers have two pairs of prolegs on the abdomen while the green cloverworm has three pairs. Loopers are fairly lethargic, but green cloverworms hop around quickly when disturbed.

Green cloverworm larvae near Ralls

Typical defoliation in soybean caused by green cloverworm

Fortunately the green cloverworm is only a leaf feeder in soybean and it does not damage pods. For alfalfa here is a quote the Oklahoma guide, "These defoliators are rarely a significant problem in established alfalfa, although seedling stands can be heavily damaged by their feeding." However, if there are enough of them present they can cause defoliation, which in turn will reduce the amount of nutrients the plants can store for overwintering.

For soybeans, University of Tennessee has good list of insecticides in their publication here. Oklahoma State University has control suggestions for alfalfa here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Look out for Spider Mites and Southwestern Corn Borer Moths

Spider Mites on the Increase

After the heavy infestations of western flower thrips about 6 weeks ago, spider mite infestations in corn have been hard to find. But, spider mites seem to be recovering. In my field trials near Hart, Tx spider mites were beginning to build in some of my plots. The infestations were increasing in some plots, but not in all plots, next to the field edges. And spider mites were also increasing in other plots that were further out into the field. The mite predator densities per leaf were very low, < 0.5 predator / leaf. The primary predator found was the six spotted thrips adults and larvae. 

John Quillin sent me this photograph yesterday of spider mites. So, be on the look out for hot spots of  spider mites. They could be found throughout the fields.

Photo: Mr. John Quillin

Moth Trapping Activity

Southwestern Corn Borer (SWCB)
Deaf Smith county had a very noticeable increase in SWCB moth activity in two out of 4 location across the county (See SWCB graph). Last week there was an average of 10.5 SWCB moths per trap compared to this week’s collection of 54, 80, 206, and 347 moths per trap. None of the other counties saw this type of increase of SWCB moths. The other counties had less than 10 SWCB moths per trap. These moth trap collections in Deaf Smith county are still low compared to previous years when peak collections have been in the hundreds or thousands. These increases are an indication we are beginning the second generation SWCB moth flight.

Fall Armyworm (FAW)
Again Deaf Smith county, along with Dallam and Randall counties, had fall armyworm moths trap catches ranging from a low of 31 at a location to a high of 160 at another location. All other FAW trap numbers for the other reported locations were < 20.

Western Bean Cutworm (WBC)
The western bean cutworm moth numbers ranged between 6 to 53 moths per trap, with the mean at 33 WBC moths per trap. The counties reporting these numbers were from Dallam, Hartley, Moore to Hutchinson and down to Deaf Smith and Randall counties. These numbers are 1/8th to 1/4 the numbers we have trapped in other years. Although the numbers are low, we still need to be diligently looking for egg masses and larvae.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sugarcane Aphids have made it to the Texas High Plains

Late Wednesday evening, Blayne Reed (IPM Extension Agent - Floyd, Hale, Swisher Counties) reported sugarcane aphids were found on the eastern side of Floyd county by independent crop consultants ( And, Katelyn Kowles (IPM Extension Agent - Crosby, Lubbock Counties) reported finding the aphids in the eastern part of Crosby County. The SCA infestations were very low in both counties. Infestations were from <1% of plants infested in Floyd to <5% of plants infested in Crosby. Colony sizes were also very small. Still they are here now. 

Dr. Pat Porter has written the following summary or highlights from what we learned last year about SCA management. 

Early planting is going to pay off

The earlier the aphid arrives during crop development, the more damage it can do. Infestations prior to boot can cause sterile panicles and decrease yields to essentially zero. Infestations at or after flowering, while still very serious, are somewhat less potentially damaging. This is why our treatment thresholds vary by crop stage.

Treatment threshold:
Pre-boot: 20% of plants with aphids.
Boot: 20% of plants infested with 50 aphids per leaf.
Flowering to Milk: 30% of plants infested with 50 aphids per leaf.
Soft dough through dough: 30% of plants infested, localized areas with heavy honeydew, and established aphid colonies.
Black layer: Heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies with treatment only for preventing harvest problems.

Our earlier planted sorghum has either finished flowering or is now flowering and has moved to the place it can withstand more aphids. In part this might matter because we have a relatively high number of beneficial insects in the system, and they have a better chance of keeping populations below treatment thresholds when those thresholds are higher. And even if one insecticide application is necessary, the need for a second application is far less likely in a much more mature crop.

Weekly scouting is a must

Under hot, dry conditions, the reproductive capacity of this aphid (which is born pregnant) is something approaching Shock And Awe, and everyone who went through the 2015 season will agree.  Missing a weekly scouting might mean missing populations low enough to be brought under control with insecticides. In 2015 we had many fields that were sprayed too late and adequate control was not achieved without a second application. Once the aphid has been found in a field, then twice-weekly scouting is important. Last year I would have linked to our guide to recognizing the sugarcane aphid, but this year I think we all know what the enemy looks like.

"Tolerant" hybrids are susceptible hybrids

There are a few hybrids with resistance to sugarcane aphids, although the seed industry chooses to call these "tolerant" hybrids because they rightly don't want to give the impression they are bulletproof. Our best resistant hybrids are what could be called moderately resistant, and this won't stop the aphids from reaching treatment thresholds. It may slow them down, and it may let the beneficial insects have more time to exert control, but all other things being equal it is merely a delaying action. Fields of "tolerant" hybrids should be scouted and sprayed based on the treatment threshold just like fields of completely susceptible hybrids.

Insecticide choice matters - a lot

Last year saw everything in the book, and some things not in the book, being thrown at sugarcane aphids. Many of these insecticide products were our old aphid standards, and what we found was that they were not very good at killing aphids, but they were very good at killing beneficial insects (the big guns in aphid control after an application). Our insecticide trials confirmed this; we had massive aphid resurgence where we killed the beneficial insects. There are only two good insecticide choices for sugarcane aphid: Sivanto and Transform. Both of these provide high efficacy with minimal impact on beneficial insects.

Make the first application count

Last year we observed insecticide applications of Sivanto and Transform made with high rates and plenty of carrier volume most often did such a good job of control that the few surviving aphids were cleaned up by beneficial insects. Conversely, we observed that fields sprayed with lower rates and/or insufficient carrier volumes frequently did not get control and required a second application.

Experience is a good teacher

This pest is manageable. Last year was a bit of trial and error, but after one growing season of intense aphid pressure we are much better equipped in 2016.

Pest Update for the Texas Panhandle

Western Bean Cutworm

Last week I wrote about WBC moth activity beginning to increase and the possible concerns about reduced activity of Cry1F Bt toxin in Bt corn. After writing the article I began to wonder how our extreme hot temperatures would affect WBC egg and larval survival. I contacted an entomologist colleague from the University of Nebraska to get his input about these temperatures and WBC. His comments were “Hot temps will have greater impact on leaf temp if the plants are under any stress and this could dry egg masses and increase their falling off the plants.  We have seen this happen some in fields that have been stressed. Perhaps the greatest impact from the heat will be to shorten adult life spans and decrease egg laying. In very hot weather the moth flight period is constricted and females tend to lay fewer eggs (fewer egg clutches). The larvae will seek protection, and if plant is not too stressed they will find it (e.g. developing tassels in whorl), should do well. They are very good at finding hospitable microclimates on the corn plant.” Also, he is an author on a journal paper that looked at WBC survival at different field location. I have copied a graph (below) from the paper that illustrates the number of days for eggs to hatch decreases from 12 days to 6 days as temperatures increase from 60o F (16o C) to 86o F (30o C). But, also at the higher temperature the percentage of eggs that hatch declined to 51%. So, when temperatures reach 105o F (40o C) or more the percentage of eggs hatching should be even less.  Unfortuantely, having fewer egg clutches will mean take more time to find them when scouting and harder to make decisions for when to treat.

J. Econ. Entoml. 106 (3): 1274 - 1285 (2013)

Last week I reported heavy grasshopper activity in the northwestern part of the Panhandle. I noticed this week at the research facilities at Bushland the grasshoppers activity was increasing. But, nothing like the activity up north. Here are a few photographs sent to me that shows how heavy the grasshopper populations are and how much damage they are causing.

Photo courtesy: John Quillin

Moth Trapping Activity

Southwestern Corn Borer (SWCB) 

There has been a dramatic drop in southwestern corn borer across the high plains region, which probably represents an end of the 1st moth flight. But, we could begin to see emergence of the 2nd generation SWCB moths from the egg lay of SWCB in early June in a couple of weeks. Non-Bt corn will need to be closely inspected for eggs. Generally the 2nd SWCB moth flights last 4 to 6 weeks with the peak flight occurring during the 3rd to 4th week.
Fall Armyworm (FAW)

We have had a couple of peaks already of fall armyworm moth activity. But, Deaf Smith county, particularly, had an increase this past week. Have had calls about whorl infestations in grain sorghum. infestations often do not result in economic losses even when leaves are really ragged by larval feeding. Control of infestation in the whorl can be difficult because few spray droplets are deposited in the whorl.
Western Bean Cutworm (WBC)

Dallam, Hartley, Moore counties, where traps are located, continue to have active moth flights of WBC. It should be noted that we have WBC moth activity moving out into Hansford and Deaf Smith counties.