6 Spring Insect Pest Problems To Watch

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There are several major insect pests growers and retailers should keep a close eye on this spring, according to Ohio State University Extension entomologists Ron Hammond and Andy Michel. They are:

  1. Black cutworm. We have had heavier weed growth because of earlier warm weather, especially chickweed growth. With this extra growth comes the potential for greater black cutworms problems. Added to this is that adult cutworms are already being collected in the Midwest. When corn gets planted and starts to emerge, cutworms might already be at damaging stages. Thus, there is a greater need to pay extra attention in those fields conducive to cutworms problems, namely no-till and/or weedy fields.
  2. Slugs. Warmer weather and soil temperatures will be causing slugs to hatch earlier and will result in slugs beginning their heavier feeding earlier. If planting times are normal, slugs will be a bigger and larger threat than normal. If planting early, perhaps the slug feeding will be more similar to normal conditions. If planting is late, slugs will be relatively larger and capable of even heavier feeding.
  3. Bean leaf beetles. Based on studies at other universities, we might seed more bean leaf beetles because of the warm winter. However, we believe that if most fields are planted and emerged about the same time, beetles should disperse themselves over all those fields and not be major problems. However, if only a few fields have emerged, those will still get them all and as usual, potentially be problem fields that would need extra monitoring.
  4. Rootworms. Although we would expect rootworm larvae to hatch earlier this year, we would not expect to necessarily have more or greater problems. Because most fields are already transgenic for rootworm control, treated with a soil insecticide if continuous corn, or are part of a rotation, we would still expect good control. We would not recommend any additional or two-tactic applications be made (for example making soil insecticides applications on transgenic corn).
  5. Corn flea beetle. We have already discussed this pest in previous C.O.R.N. newsletters (#5, March 5-20). Seed treatments on most corn should offer control, at least for beetles; we are not sure about its impacts on Stewart’s wilt. Growers should plan on scouting any non-seed treated fields along with popcorn and sweet corn fields that are usually more susceptible to Stewart’s wilt, and any field corn hybrids that are more susceptible.
  6. Cereal leaf beetle. We would expect an earlier presence of cereal leaf beetle larvae, and thus, the need to scout wheat and oats earlier. Because of the potential for greater survival, perhaps it is more important this spring.

In addition, mid-summer problems may be a concern. At this time, however, we are not sure how the warmer winter will impact populations later in the growing season; thus, the need to monitor will still be there.

No matter what, as always, remember: IPM – scout, scout, scout. For management options, click here.

Hammond is a professor and Extension entomologist at The Ohio State University, Department of Entomology. He focuses on integrated management of insect pests of soybean, alfalfa, corn, and wheat. Michel is an Assistant Professor and Extension Entomologist, The Ohio State University, Department of Entomology. He focuses on insect molecular population genetics, genetics of adaptation and evolution of field crop and other pest species, host-race/biotype formation, ecological specialization and speciation.

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