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Pest Alert: Tarnished Plant Bug Numbers Surge Across Southeast

July 28, 2020
This agronomic image shows a tarnished plant bug

Tarnished plant bug on cotton: Photo by Ron Smith, Ph.D., Auburn University

Many states in the Southeast saw a wet spring this season, which created perfect conditions for weeds to thrive. Some of these weeds, including daisy fleabane, are excellent hosts for plant bugs. As these plant bugs, particularly tarnished plant bugs, move into row crops, scouting is crucial. As we well know, plant bug damage, especially during squaring, can lead to a significant reduction in cotton yield.

Entomologists across the Southeast recently shared Pest Patrol alerts providing tips and updates and encouraging cotton growers to scout for tarnished plant bugs, which include:

  • Determine pest levels by using a sweep net and counting the number of plant bugs present.
  • Consider an insecticide application if the population exceeds the threshold, which is more than 8 plant bugs per 100 sweeps, or lower than 80% square retention.
  • Abundant rainfall has caused the migration of adult plant bugs to be slow and extended, but AL entomologist Ron Smith, Ph.D., warned in his recent Pest Patrol alert that populations are continuing to increase. When the immatures of the first generation reach the adult stage, fields will likely have plant bug populations at all life stages. If this continues, multiple applications on a schedule will be required.
  • Entomologist Scott Stewart, Ph.D., notes plant bugs are a concern for cotton in TN. Tarnished plant bug migration typically occurs in the second half of July, and the following 2-3 weeks will determine the cotton’s yield potential. Stewart advises growers to look closely at the edges of fields, where mowing may stir plant bugs and push them toward cotton.
  • NC entomologist Dominic Reisig, Ph.D. advises growers to scout their fields for plant bugs, even if the pest has never been an issue in the past. Historically, plant bug populations were concentrated in northeast NC, but have been present in treatable numbers across the state this season.

Centric® and Endigo® ZC foliar insecticides help cotton growers control plant bugs and the economic damage they cause. Centric provides long-lasting control of yield-reducing pests like plant bugs and is an effective rotational product for resistance management. Endigo ZC combines 3 industry-leading technologies for quick knockdown of persistent plant bugs while offering extended residual control, resulting in higher potential cotton yield.

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All photos are either the property of Syngenta or are used with permission.