Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Insect Pests Plaguing Vegetable Growers

This article is from the latest edition of NC Pest News from Entomology Extension Specialist, Dr. Mark Abney.

"A variety of insects are currently plaguing vegetable growers across North Carolina. Armyworms and corn earworms have been abundant and moth flights are continuing. European corn borers have been abundant in many of our research trials this year after several years of low numbers. Heavy European corn borer infestations occurred in sweet corn at the Central Crops Research Station in Clayton and large numbers were seen in bell pepper trials near Kinston and in the mountains near Fletcher.

Melon growers have not been immune to insect problems, and there have been a couple cases recently of corn rootworm larvae feeding on the undersides of cantaloupes. We do not see this on a regular basis, but it seems to happen somewhere every year. Larvae feed on the undersides of fruit, usually after a heavy rain, and there is no technology currently available to effectively control the problem.

As we approach late August, home gardeners and commercial growers alike will be faced with managing pickleworms in cucumber and squash. Commercial growers are forced to rely on preventative insecticide applications as tolerance for pickleworms in harvested produce is essentially zero. Home gardeners are faced with an uphill battle against this pest as management options available are not likely to provide good control. The best advice for gardeners is usually to plant early and harvest before pickleworms arrive from the south each year.

Another perennial foe of the cucurbit grower, the squash bug, is making its presence known in backyard gardens, commercial organic production, and in research trials. Large populations recently moved into research plantings of squash and cucumber at the Horticultural Crops Research Station near Clinton. It only takes a couple squash bugs to kill a young squash plant, so scouting and timely management are critical. These bugs can be difficult to kill, and the adult stage is particularly tough to control. Targeting the nymphs is important.

Scouting vegetables is absolutely essential to prevent losses due to insects and to maximize the effectiveness of insecticide applications. For control recommendations in specific crops, please refer to the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual (http://ipm.ncsu.edu/agchem/5-toc.pdf)."

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