Agronomic Crop Insects – April 22, 2011

Joanne Whalen, Extension IPM Specialist;

Continue to scout fields for both alfalfa weevil and pea aphids. Economic levels of both can be found in alfalfa fields at this time. As a general guideline, you should consider a treatment in alfalfa less than 10 inches tall if you find 40-50 aphids per stem. The treatment threshold for alfalfa 10 inches or taller in height is 75- 100 per stem. Although beneficial insects can help to crash aphid populations, cooler temperatures will slow their activity. As a general rule, you need one beneficial insect per every 50-100 aphids to help crash populations. As soon as temperatures increase, we will start to see a significant increase in feeding damage from alfalfa weevil. As alfalfa approaches harvest, the decision to cut instead of treat may be considered. However, this option should only be used if you plan to cut shortly after you find an economic threshold level since damage can occur quickly. Cutting should only be considered as a management option if you can cut within 3- 5 days of finding an economic level. Also, the effectiveness of using cutting as a management strategy is affected by temperatures after cutting. If the temperature remain cool, it has not always been effective. Since you need “stubble heat” to get control. As you get close to harvest, be sure to check labels carefully for time between application and harvest.

Field Corn
As soon plants emerge, be sure to check for cutworm feeding, even if an at-planting insecticide or a Bt corn was used for cutworm control. The wet soil conditions this spring have resulted in a higher level of grey garden slugs being found under residue in no-till fields. Although we see more problems in seedling corn when temperatures remain cooler and soil remains wet, it is generally during the warmer days of April when we start to see egg hatch. You will need to sift through previous crop residue and look at the soil surface for slugs. We are generally finding eggs and adults at this time; however we have started to see the first juveniles as well. The eggs, which are clear and about half the size of a BB, are often found in clusters within crop residue or at the soil surface. Although no thresholds are available, past experience in the Mid-Atlantic has indicated that pre-plant levels of five or more grey garden slugs per square foot can indicate the potential for a problem. In 2010, DuPont issued a 2ee recommendation for Lannate LV for slug management (; however, we have limited experience with the use of Lannate for slug management. Most of our experience has been with the use of a broadcast application of Deadline M-Ps at the low end of the labeled rate ( For more information on slug biology, sampling and management, please refer to the following fact sheet from Ohio State University:

SmartStax Approved for Refuge-In-Bag
Here is a summary of information on recent federal labeling of refuge-in-the-bag (RIB) from the Ohio State C.O.R.N newsletter (Ron Hammond, Extension Entomologist). Commercialization is pending individual state authorizations and notifications, as required.

“Two SmartStax corn products having the refuge-in-the-bag (RIB) concept have received registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete by Monsanto Company and REFUGE ADVANCEDpowered by SmartStax by Dow AgroSciences. Both of these products are a blend of 95 percent SmartStax corn seed and 5 percent refuge (non-Bt) seed that farmers can plant across their entire field. This means farmers who plant these products no longer need to plant a separate, structured refuge for above-or below-ground pests in the Corn Belt. These new products are the outcome of collaboration between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, with both expecting a full commercial launch with broad lineups of hybrids for sale for 2012 planting.”

Small Grains
Although aphid population remain low, weather conditions favoring quick increases in populations include a combination of cool temperatures followed by a quick increase in temperatures. Although beneficial insects can help to crash aphid populations, cooler temperatures will slow their activity. As a general rule, you need one beneficial insect per every 50-100 aphids to help crash populations. Since barley heads are starting to emerge in some locations, be sure to watch for the movement of aphids into grain heads. In many cases, beneficial activity is still not high enough to take care of populations that can move from the lower canopy of the plants into the grain heads.

Cereal leaf populations still remain relatively low but we can now find the first larvae in fields. Refer to our factsheet ( as well as the Agronomic Crop Insects article in WCU 19:2 for sampling and treatment guidelines.

Once grain heads have emerged, you should also begin sampling small grains for grass sawfly and armyworm larvae. Although we can see economic damage from local overwintering armyworm populations, we often see significant outbreaks in years when moths coming from the South migrate to our area. Reports from trapping programs in Kentucky are indicating that trap catches for 2011 appear to be following their 2006 & 2008 outbreak levels – so be sure to begin checking for small larvae.

Remember, armyworm larvae are nocturnal so look for larvae at the base of the plants during the day. As a general guideline, a treatment should be considered if you find one armyworm per foot of row for barley and 1-2 per foot of row for wheat. The first small sawflies have been found by consultants in wheat and barley in Kent and Sussex counties. Since sawflies feed on the plants during the day, small sawfly larvae can often be detected early using a sweep net. However, there is no threshold for sweep net samples. Once sawfly larvae are detected, sample for larvae in 5 foot of row innerspace in 5-10 locations in a field to make a treatment decision. You will need to shake the plants to dislodge sawfly larvae that feed on the plants during the day. As a guideline, a treatment should be applied when you find 2 larvae per 5 foot of row innerspace or 0.4 larvae per foot of row. If armyworms and sawflies are present in the same field, the threshold for each should be reduced by one-half. The higher rates of insecticides are needed for grass sawfly control.


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