Monday, July 11, 2016

The Future Is Now: A Big Year for Lygus Bugs in Cotton

“I was not predicting the future, I was trying to prevent it.”
― Author
Ray Bradbury

Lygus bug finds a home in alfalfa.
Dr. Pete Goodell saw the signs back in the winter as he surveyed fields around the Valley. There were lots of green growth spurred by a nice rainy season and a relatively dry, mild February.

“I found adult lygus in weedy fields…which was really, really early. I would anticipate lygus in cotton would be as bad as it was last year – maybe a little worse,” Pete told us in early March.

You might say just like Ray Bradbury, the UC IPM advisor was trying to prevent the future as well – for cotton growers in this case. Pete’s goal is getting growers to be more proactive in their pest management practices and protect valuable crop.

Here is an example of lygus damage to cotton. (UGA photo)
Field scout Carlos Silva can vouch for Pete. He is finding cotton fields on the treatment threshold for lygus bugs. His sweep net is collecting five to seven lygus counts per 50 sweeps. One farmer told Carlos that he has foundbug counts as high as 10 counts. “That’s pretty high.

There have been a few farmers that have had to treat their fields. We want to get a foothold on the pests. This is the time when lygus bugs are the biggest pest threat to cotton. The bugs can cause squares to fall off and bolls to never mature properly.

Right now, lygus bugs remain the pest de jour. 

Overall, cotton plants are continuing to develop nicely. Carlos reports eight to 10 fruiting branches on plants. “Cotton is growing fast.”

Beet armyworm in alfalfa (UC IPM photo)
In alfalfa, the crop is growing quickly as well, Carlos reports.

 One field is is already at 18 inches tall. Growers are keeping an eye out for beet armyworms from now until September. These pests can skeletonize foliage and leave a field tattered looking, degrading the crop’s quality.

UC IPM says armyworms can be controlled by natural enemies such as bigeyed bugs, minute pirate bugs and lacewings. “Early harvest, border cutting, and biological control are important components of a management program that will prevent damage from armyworms,” UC IPM says.

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