Category Archives: Insect

Plant Bug Update – 02 Aug 18

Tarnished plant bugs have continued to be a problem in flowering cotton in some Virginia cotton fields. This week, scouts found 10 out of 30 fields above the bloom threshold of 2-3 plant bugs per drop cloth sample across Virginia’s cotton-growing region. Six of these fields averaged above the bloom threshold for the past two weeks (see map below). Dirty blooms may indicate plant bugs are present but should not be used as a threshold for spray decisions. Cracking bolls and observing internal boll injury in small dime and quarter-sized bolls is also a great indicator bugs may be present and causing significant damage. Internal boll injury includes raised warts or outgrowth on the carpel wall, small black punctures that usually match an external lesion, and stained lint. We recommend observing at least 25 bolls per field for internal injury in addition to drop cloth sampling to make informed spray decisions. Plant bug populations have peaked in mid-August over the past few years in Virginia so we recommend continued scouting during the coming weeks. Check out this video if you would like to see a short tutorial on drop cloth sampling.

Plant bug density averaged over two weeks from 24 July to 02 August 2018.

Plant bug internal boll injury symptoms.

Plant bug nymph feeding on a dirty bloom.


Black light trap and vial test update for August 2, 2018

Corn earworm moth captures in black light traps continued to climb this week–please see the attached table (pdf document) for more details: BLT_2_Aug_2018

We have tested 246 corn earworm moths in our vial tests this season, with an average of 15% surviving a 24-hour exposure to the pyrethroid insecticide cypermethrin at 5 micrograms per vial. The line graph is available here: vial_tests_2_Aug_2018

At our research farm in Suffolk this week, we have been finding bollworm eggs in cotton terminals with some small larvae on squares and bolls. Please be sure to scout your fields!

2018 survey of field corn for corn earworm larvae

Statewide, approximately 18% of ears were infested with corn earworm larvae. Corn is considered a nursery crop for corn earworm, allowing the pest to complete a lifecycle and then move on to other crops such as soybean, cotton, and peanut in August. There is a linear correlation between the infestation level in corn and the amount of soybean acreage that gets treated with insecticide for this pest. Please see the attached pdf for more details: CEW_survey_results_2018

Corn earworm moth report for July 26, 2018

Black light trap captures of corn earworm moths in Suffolk really jumped this week, averaging 30 per night (some nights when it wasn’t raining went up to 78). Other locations (Chesapeake, Isle of Wight, Prince George/Templeton, Prince George/Disputanta, Warsaw, and Southampton) averaged only about 1 moth per night this week.

Corn earworm black light trap report for July 19, 2018

Corn earworm moth captures in Virginia black light traps ranged from zero to 2 per night this week. Watson Lawrence in Chesapeake averaged 1 moth per night; LIvvy Preisser in Isle of Wight had 0.6 per night; Scott Reiter reported zero in Prince George (Templeton) and 0.5 per night in Disputanta. Mary Beahm in Warsaw saw 0.1 corn earworm moths per night; and in Suffolk we caught an average of 2.1 per night. We look forward to Dwayne Sanders’ help with operating a trap in Waverly!

In 2017, black light trap captures of corn earworm moths started to spike in the third week of July. Please check back for next week’s report!

Corn earworm report for July 12, 2018

Corn earworm moth numbers have been low in local black light traps. Watson Lawrence reported 1.4 per night in Chesapeake; Livvy Preisser averaged 0.6 per night in Isle of Wight; Mary Beahm had zero in Warsaw; we had 0.9 per night in Suffolk this week.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Agents and Virginia Tech employees will be scouting field corn for corn earworm larvae this month as part of Dr. Taylor’s annual survey. They examine ears in five corn fields per county and calculate the average percent infested ears. Corn is a nursery crop for corn earworm–the percent of infested ears can be a useful indicator of the pressure to expect in other crops such as soybean, cotton, peanut, etc. when moths emerge and migrate out of corn. We’ll provide results of the survey in the first week of August.

We have tested 80 corn earworm moths in our cypermethrin vial tests this season, with only 8% surviving the 24-hour exposure to 5 micrograms/vial of cypermethrin. It would be great to see moth survival remain that low, but we need to continue testing to see what happens when we get the flight out of corn and later into the season.

Corn earworm found in Virginia peanut fields

Peanut scouts in Suffolk today found fields with above threshold numbers of corn earworm/tobacco budworm (4 per row foot). Fields previously treated recently with chlorpyrifos may be at higher risk because they have fewer beneficial predators.

Black beat cloths can aide in sampling. However, shaking and slapping plants will dislodge worms onto soil for easy counting. Make sure and check around the base of the plant when using either method.

Feeding damage shows up in the form of holes in foliage. Worms may also feed on terminals and flowers so scouting for damage alone is not recommended. Peanuts can lose a lot of leaf material without losing yield, but drought-stressed or herbicide injured plants are at higher risk for yield-loss. Do not spray unless necessary. Recent dry weather in combination with broad-spectrum insecticides can flair spider mites.

Pyrethoids are a common choice for earworm control in Virginia and most products can be tank mixed with a fungicide to save money. Always read and follow label instructions. Pyrethroids are losing efficacy against earworm and we have experienced spray failures in other crops (soybean, cotton, sweet corn). Budworm have been resistant to pyrethroids for some time. You will not be able to distinguish these two species in the field. Refer to NCSU video for details. Do not expect complete control of large worms or high populations. Alternative products labeled in peanut include Prevathon, Besiege, Steward, Radiant, Intrepid Edge, and Blackhawk. A list of products and rates is included in Virginia Tech’s Pest Management Guide.

Plant bug control in blooming cotton

Tarnished plant bugs continue to be a problem in some Virginia cotton fields. This week, scouts found 14 of 32 fields over the pre-bloom threshold (8 per 100 sweeps) and increasing numbers of nymphs. Drop cloth sampling is recommended for blooming cotton and counting squares is no longer a good indication of feeding. Threshold is 2-3 bugs per sample. Check out this short video ( if you have questions on how to use this method or are unsure of what nymphs look like. Dirty blooms indicate feeding, but active populations should be confirmed before a spray is made.

As cotton begins to bloom, neonicotinoids (e.g., Admire Pro, Centric, Belay) lose efficacy and I recommend rotating to a pyrethroid, a pyrethroid/acephate mix, or Bidrin. These products will  also control stink bugs if present. Transform is not labeled in Virginia, but our representative in Richmond is working hard to get us a Section 18 and I hope to have one in place by next year at the latest. All of these products will kill beneficial predators in your field. This is a concern as we near bollworm egg lay in cotton.

I encourage you to treat for insect pests only when thresholds are reached. Plant bug control will likely be needed through mid-August when populations peak, even in fields that have been previously sprayed. Spider mites, aphids, and bollworm (in two-gene cotton) risk increases with each broad-spectrum insecticide use, as does the risk for sprayer fatigue.

Special thanks to graduate student Seth Dorman and crew for their continued scouting efforts.