Thursday, December 10, 2015

Texas Department of Agriculture Requests Transform Use in 2016

Dale R. Scott, Coordinator for Pesticide Product Evaluation and Registration, Texas Department of Agriculture, this week submitted a Section 18 (emergency exemption) request to EPA to allow Transform insecticide (sulfoxaflor) to be used on sorghum for sugarcane aphid control in 2016. 

The FOCUS on Entomology newsletter presented news of the announcement of Transform's cancellation in October and pointed out the serious need to have Transform available for sugarcane aphid control next year, in part because of the damage caused by this aphid and the very real threat of developing resistance to the sole remaining effective insecticide, Sivanto. 

The Texas Department of Agriculture understands the magnitude of the threat sugarcane aphid poses to Texas sorghum growers and has acted swiftly to try to restore a much needed production tool. EPA might or might not grant the request, but Texas sorghum growers should know that TDA has taken action. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sorghum Checkoff publishes sugarcane aphid management guide

Hot off the presses, a very comprehensive 49-page sugarcane aphid management guide has just been released by Sorghum Checkoff. The guide covers identification, thresholds, insecticides, adjuvants, resistant and tolerant hybrids and more.

The electronic version is available here.   Hard copy guides can be ordered from Sorghum Checkoff, 4201 North Interstate 27, Lubbock, Texas 79403. Phone: (806) 687-8727. Toll Free: (877) 643-8727. Fax: (806) 749-9002

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dow AgroSciences Press Release About EPA's Cancellation of Sulfoxaflor Insecticide

We have received word from Dow AgroSciences that they are doing everything possible to return Transform (sulfoxaflor) to the market. Here is their press release about the cancellation of Transform.

Read the original version posted at Dow AgroSciences

Reprint of the Dow AgroSciences press release:

Dow AgroSciences to Work Diligently to Support Renewed U.S. EPA Sulfoxaflor Registrations

Friday, 13 November, 2015 15:45:00

On Thursday, November 12, EPA issued a cancellation order for sulfoxaflor-containing products in response to a September 10th Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling “vacating” product registrations. The following is Dow AgroSciences’ comment on that action. 
As a result of the extensive data currently available on sulfoxaflor, Dow AgroSciences expects the pollinator protection concerns expressed in a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (September 10) to be readily and thoroughly addressed by EPA through further review of scientific data, supporting pressing grower needs for protection against destructive crop pests with renewed U.S. registrations of sulfoxaflor-containing products. 
Four full years of widespread U.S. product use – with additional use in Canada, Australia and other nations – have demonstrated excellent sulfoxaflor performance worldwide with no noted adverse effects on pollinators. 
Registrations outside the U.S. of sulfoxaflor-containing products should not be impacted by this decision. U.S. tolerances for sulfoxaflor are similarly unaffected. 
As part of its recent action, EPA has issued an existing stocks provision allowing growers to use sulfoxaflor-containing products they have in hand consistent with directions on the pre-existing product label. Dow AgroSciences is, however, disappointed with EPA’s existing stocks provision which effectively removes a critical tool from the American grower by not allowing existing inventories of sulfoxaflor-containing products to be sold and distributed to end-users while EPA considers its next steps. 
Dow AgroSciences remains confident in the benefits offered by this new class of insecticides and will work diligently with EPA and States to achieve new registrations for these important products to support the American grower. 
Dow AgroSciences notes that contrary to misrepresentations circulated by pesticide opponents, sulfoxaflor is a sulfoximine-class insecticide, not a neonicotinoid, a distinction clearly established by the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) and published in the open scientific literature.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why you can't use Transform on sorghum next season even if you have some on hand

The EPA notice of the cancellation of Transform that we posted today says, "Use of existing stocks by end users is permitted provided such use is consistent in all respects with the previously-approved labeling for the product." But this does not mean Transform is labeled for use on sorghum, because it is not. We were using Transform in 2015 under a Section 18 emergency use exemption, and that expired on October 31st of this year.  So sorghum is no longer a labeled use.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension personnel have drafted a new Section 18 request for Transform and it was submitted to TDA today. However, it is EPA and not TDA that approves Section 18 requests, and there is no way to guess whether EPA will approve our Texas request. 

Outside of sorghum, if the 2015 Section 3 Federal label lists uses on other crops then existing on farm stocks of Transform can still be used for these purposes. 

Sulfoxaflor (Transform) Insecticide Cancelled in USA

On November 12, EPA issued the following statement about Transform, one of two available insecticides effective in controlling sugarcane aphid.

"Cancellation Order Issued for Sulfoxaflor
On November 12, 2015, EPA issued a cancellation order for all previously registered Sulfoxaflor products. This cancellation order is in response to the September 10, 2015, order of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finding that EPA improperly approved the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act registrations of the pesticide sulfoxaflor; the court’s order became effective on November 12. Pursuant to EPA’s cancellation order, and beginning November 12, 2015, distribution or sale by the registrant of cancelled sulfoxaflor products is prohibited, unless such distribution or sale is for the purpose of disposal or export.  Also, stocks of cancelled products held by persons other than the registrant may not be commercially distributed in the United States, but instead may be distributed only to facilitate return to the manufacturer or for proper disposal or lawful export.  Use of existing stocks by end users is permitted provided such use is consistent in all respects with the previously-approved labeling for the product.  The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act tolerances, also known as maximum pesticide residue levels for sulfoxaflor are not affected by either the court's decision or EPA’s cancellation order, so crops that have been properly treated with sulfoxaflor or that may be treated with existing stocks as described in the final cancellation order can still be sold legally." The full cancellation order is here


We are not attorneys, but a layman's reading of the EPA text would suggest that Transform now at distributor warehouses cannot be moved except if it is being returned to the manufacturer or for disposal or for export. This interpretation, if correct, would mean that product paid for but not picked up can not now be transported to the farm. HOWEVER, TRANSFORM THAT IS ALREADY ON FARM CANNOT BE USED ON SORGHUM IN 2016 BECAUSE THE SECTION 18 EMERGENCY USE PERMIT HAS EXPIRED. (SEE ARTICLE ABOVE.) Dow AgroSciences has issued a statement on the cancellation of Transform, but we do not as yet have a copy. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New Map: 17 States and 417 Counties Infested

Dr. Robert Bowling has released the Sept. 30th sugarcane aphid distribution maps, and these record confirmed sugarcane aphid presence in 17 states.

Monday, September 14, 2015

New Distribution Map Reflects Spread to Illinois

Dr. Robert Bowling's latest sugarcane aphid distribution map shows that the aphids are now being found in Illinois and their range has expanded. The new map does not try to track the severity of infestations but is simply meant to present counties with confirmed populations.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Distribution Map Updated 8.29.15

Dr. Robert Bowling has just updated the sugarcane aphid distribution map. He records a new discovery in Kentucky and a general spread in the west.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Corn, Cotton and the Sugarcane Aphid (High Plains)

Many people on the High Plains are finding what looks like sugarcane aphids on corn and to a lesser extent cotton, and the question we are receiving is whether the aphid will get on these crops and, if so, will it become a problem.

The answer to the first part is a definite YES; they will get on all of our plant species. In the past few weeks we have had billions of winged adults flying from sorghum fields and all of them need to land somewhere. They are basically like flakes of ash from a giant volcanic eruption and will settle out over the landscape.

The answer to the second part of the question is that neither corn or cotton is a good host for the aphid. Small aphid colonies are being found on these crops but they are not expanding rapidly and will not get anywhere near pest status, at least if our aphids behave like sugarcane aphids do in Mexico and south Texas. Sandy Endicott from DuPont Pioneer monitors the sugarcane aphid situation in Mexico and the southern U.S. and provided some perspective to us earlier in the week. In Central Mexico there are four counties where the sorghum crop is a complete loss. The report went on to state that DuPont Pioneer people were finding small colonies on corn, but that there was no concern at this point but they will continue to watch closely. The situation on sorghum in Mexico seems to be extreme yet only small colonies are being found on corn. This matches what our Extension Entomology colleagues Danielle Sekula-Ortiz and Raul Villanueva have reported from the Valley; small colonies only and these do not persist. Corn, being a grass, is much more closely related to sorghum than is cotton, a dicot. The sugarcane aphid has adapted to sorghum and its relatives (including millet) but not to corn, and certainly not to cotton. (Cotton aphids, which look quite similar to sugarcane aphids, are currently being found on southern High Plains cotton.)

Having said all of this, aphids are good at adaptation if they have the genetics to do it. As far as we know, and based on a lot of credible information, none of our crops that are not in the sorghum group are at risk. We would appreciate reports of healthy looking and expanding colonies of sugarcane aphids on any of our non-sorghum crops. Our contact information is here. We don't expect any phone calls but it never hurts to be vigilant.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Latest Map Shows Spread

Dr. Robert Bowling has updated the sugarcane aphid map to reflect a further expansion of the aphid's range.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Map Updated to Reflect Spread North and West

Dr. Robert Bowling has issued a new version of the sugarcane aphid distribution map to reflect the aphid's expansion in the second week of August. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sugarcane Aphids Moving North to the Texas Panhandle

After last week's confirmation of Sugarcane aphids (SCA) in Ochiltree county, we have more confirmations and reports of the SCA infesting more fields in the Texas Panhandle. There is confirmation that SCAs are in Castro, Carson, Deaf Smith, Gray, Hansford, Oldham, Randall, and Wheeler counties. And there are reports of them being found in Moore county. Fields in Donely, Carson, Deaf Smith, Oldham, and Randall counties were at treatable levels. 

Sugarcane Aphid Threshold Lowered for the Texas High Plains

Now that we have had at few weeks of experience with field-scale sugarcane aphid control in the southern High Plains, it appears that we need to move to a more conservative treatment threshold than the one currently in use. What we are finding in commercial fields and our insecticide trial is that our insecticides do not seem to be working quite as well as they do in more southern locations with higher humidity and less intense sunlight. Whether our environment affects the insects, plants and/or insecticides differently is unknown, and what we are seeing could be a combination of all three factors – or two or one or none, we just don’t know. Insecticide coverage issues may also be in play. We could be experiencing insecticide interception by excessive honeydew such that some of the insecticide never gets to the leaf surface.  We also do not know the importance of reduction in coverage and canopy penetration attributable to aerial application rather than ground application with higher volumes of water. Additionally, we also have reports of narrow row fields (less than 36 inches) having reduced insecticide efficacy, and this of course is a coverage issue.

The preceding paragraph is basically to say that we are not sure what is causing reduced control. We want to make it absolutely clear that there is no reason to think this is a resistance issue. However, with regard to application timing the prudent thing to do is to initiate insecticide applications sooner, before the aphids reach 50-125 aphids per leaf. For that reason we are recommending the action thresholds in use in Mississippi.

The threshold for soft dough stage sorghum is when 30% of the plants are infested and there are localized areas of heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies. This threshold would trigger significantly earlier insecticide applications than our Texas threshold of an average of 50–125 aphids per leaf. The full explanation of the Mississippi threshold can be found here: . Note that this document estimates a 21% yield loss if fields at soft dough stage are left untreated after reaching the threshold. Missing an application at the boot stage threshold of 20% of plants infested with localized heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies would cause a 67% reduction in yield.

Of course another prudent step would be to increase the insecticide rate if possible. Bayer CropScience has some good recommendations for tank additives on the High Plains. Insecticide applications made at relatively low to normal numbers of aphids can be tank mixed with MSO/silicone blends. For heavier infestations they are recommending that Crop Oil Concentrate or High Surfactant Crop Oil be added at the recommended rates. The thought here is do drive the insecticide deeper in to the canopy. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bayer CropScience Recommending Higher Rate of Sivanto

Russ Perkins, Technical Service Rep., for Bayer CropScience stated yesterday that the company is now recommending Sivanto 200 SL be applied at 5 floz per acre for control of sugarcane aphid infestations. Also, Jodie Stocket, Dow AgroSciences rep., indicates the recommended rate of Transform WG is still 1.0 oz per acre.

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Mexico and Top Tier of Texas Infested

Robert Bowling has updated the sugarcane aphid infestation map to, in part, reflect Jane Pierce's discovery of aphids near Clovis, New Mexico, and a confirmed report from Ochiltree County at the top of the Texas Panhandle. Dr. Pierce is an entomologist with New Mexico State University and her discovery in New Mexico is a first for the State.

The latest map does not yet reflect the reality that many southern High Plains counties are now applying insecticides to aphids at or over the threshold.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Southern High Plains Counties Reach Treatment Threshold

At a minimum, Floyd, Crosby and Lubbock counties now have sorghum fields at the economic threshold of 50 to 125 sugarcane aphids per leaf and insecticide applications started over the weekend. Blayne Reed, Extension Agent - IPM in Hale, Swisher and Floyd counties said that private consultants called in the first Floyd County applications today. Monti Vandiver, Syngenta Crop Protection and former Extension Agent - IPM, said that the aphids in Crosby and Lubbock counties are now at treatable levels. 

This is in no way meant to imply that the other infested counties don't have fields at threshold level, so it is imperative that all sorghum fields on the Southern High Plains be scouted. This aphid can go from barely noticeable to exceeding the economic threshold in as little as 5 days. All of the scouting procedures, treatment threshold and insecticide information is presented here:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

New Map: More High Plains Counties Have Aphids, Numbers Rising in Rolling Plains

Lamb and Swisher counties in the Southern High Plains have been added to the map of infested counties. We are seeing increasing numbers of aphids in Southern High Plains fields and a few might reach treatment threshold levels at the end of July. Additionally, aphids have reached treatable numbers in the lower Rolling Plains.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sugarcane Aphid Occurrence Map Updated July 17

Note for the July 17th map that Hockley County is mistakenly listed as infested. HOWEVER, it was confirmed to be infested on July 21st. Additionally, Tom Green, Runnels and Coleman counties have more than 125 aphids per leaf as of 7/20/15. The next map will reflect these comments. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hockley and Floyd Counties Confirmed: Local Workshops Pending

Blayne Reed, Extension Agent - IPM for Hale, Swisher and Floyd counties, found several small to moderate sized sugarcane aphid colonies in a sorghum field 5 miles north of Lockney on July 21st. These aphids were below treatable levels and there were abundant yellow sugarcane aphids (a different pest aphid species) and spider mites in the field as well.

Kerry Siders, Extension Agent - IPM for Hockley, Cochran and Lamb counties, found sugarcane aphids in a sorghum field 5 miles west of Ropesville today, July 21st. The aphids were below economic threshold.

Sugarcane Aphid Workshops Pending in Hockley, Cochran and Lamb counties:

Wednesday, July 22, 9:00am, Wilbur Ellis-Levelland
Thursday, July 23, 8:30am, Platinum Bank Levelland (sponsored by Farmers Coop Elevator, Levelland)
Friday, July 24, 9:00am, CHS-Anton
Monday, July 27, 9:00am, AG Products, Levelland
Tuesday, July 28, 8:00am, CHS-Ropesville
Wednesday, July 29, 9:00am, Olton Ag Pavillion
Thursday, July 30, 9:00am, Farmers Coop – Sudan
Monday, August 3, 8:30am, Lamb County Ag Center, Littlefield
Tuesday, August 4, 7:15am, Wilbur Ellis – Earth
Thursday, August 6, 8:30am, Lewis Farm & Ranch, Morton
Monday, August 10, 8:30am, Extension Office – Cochran Co. Activity Room, Morton

Contact Kerry Siders at 806-638-5635 for more information.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sugarcane Aphid in Central and North Texas. July 16.

Sugarcane Aphid in Central and North Texas. July 16.  

     Sugarcane aphid infestations began to exceed treatment threshold the last week of June and early July in central (Blacklands) and north Texas.  However, many fields are currently below threshold.  Several AgriLife Extension Agents in District 8 (Blacklands) are scouting sorghum fields weekly as part of a sugarcane aphid monitoring program.  To-date, about 35% of these 13 grain sorghum fields across 7 counties have been treated for SCA.  These represent the most promising fields as the sorghum crop has suffered from heavy rains in May that stunted growth, delayed or prevented planting and fertilizer applications.  In some fields in the southern Blacklands, SCA rapidly increased to treatment thresholds following treatment for midge and stinkbugs.  Infestations have extended as far north as Grayson County, on the TX/OK border, and fields there were treated for SCA the first week of July.  Syrphid fly predators and parasitized SCA were common in June, but lady beetles only recently appeared.  In early July, hot dry weather set in and winged aphids, along with a row of new nymphs behind them, were common in fields in north Texas.   Forage sorghum producers with increasing SCA infestations are harvesting early or applying an insecticide while others planted pearl millet to avoid SCA altogether.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Distribution Map Updated, Terry County Probable

Robert Bowling, Extension Entomologist in Corpus Christi, has just updated the sugarcane aphid distribution map for Texas and the southern states. The 2015 map shows counties that are under treatment threshold, at threshold and over threshold. It also shows counties where aphids have been found on Johnsongrass but not sorghum. 

We received a photo from Terry County, Texas this morning that most likely shows a large colony of sugarcane aphids and we are waiting to confirm the identification before declaring Terry County positive.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hale County Aphids Found

Blayne Reed, Extension Agent - IPM, reported finding one colony of sugarcane aphids on whorl stage sorghum at the Texas A&M Experiment Station at Halfway today, July 13th. Aphids are not numerous; it took 20 minutes of looking to find the colony.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sugarcane Aphid found in an Overwintering Cage in Dawson County

Mr. Tommy Doederlein, IPM Extension Agent for Dawson and Lynn Counties, set up an overwinter cage last fall with sugarcane aphids on Johnsongrass. The cage was located 5.9 miles NNE of Lamesa, TX. Within the cage he placed two HOBO temperature data recorders. One recorder was placed on the soil surface and the other recorder was placed 2-3 inches below the soil surface.

On July 3rd, Mr. Doederlein went back to the cage and, to his surprise, found large numbers of sugarcane aphids infesting the Johnsongrass that had re-sprouted within the cage. Data from the temperature recorders showed that on the surface there had been 331 hrs with temperatures below 32 degrees fahrenheit. The lowest temperature recorded was 16.3 degrees. The other recorder positioned 2-3 inches below the soil surface recorded 37 hrs of temperatures below 32 degrees fahrenheit and the lowest temperature was 30.07 degrees.

Sugarcane aphids on Johnsongrass under an overwintering  cage. Photo: T. Doederlein
To date, the sugarcane aphids under this overwintering cage and a colony of aphids on Johnsongrass  found by Dr. Pat Porter at Lubbock are the only confirmed reports of sugarcane aphids on the Texas High Plains.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Blue aphids = good news

Dr. Charles Allen is reporting finding many dead blue sugarcane aphids mixed in colonies of normally colored aphids in West Central Texas.

We expect to find that the blue aphids have been parasitized by Aphelinus species wasps. These tiny wasps can, over time, play a significant role in reducing aphid populations. The species affecting the sugarcane aphid is unknown, but Dr. Jim Woolley (College Station) and Dr. Mike Brewer (Corpus Christi) are working on the identification.

Blue parasitized sugarcane aphids among non-parasitized aphids.
Photo credit: Charles Allen

Here is a short video by Karla Cruz of an Aphelinus wasp laying an egg in a sugarcane aphid. 

Sugarcane aphid and whorl stage sorghum on the Southern High Plains

By Tommy Doederlein, Pat Porter, Blayne Reed and Kerry Siders

Sugarcane aphid arrived early in south Texas this year but its northward expansion was apparently slowed by the record rainfall. However, in the last two weeks it has made a rapid advance and was found in Lubbock County on June 29th.  This is two months earlier than the August 27th, 2014 first detection by Blayne Reed in Floyd County. Last year’s late arrival allowed us to avoid making insecticide applications. While it is still too early to guess how severe the problem might be this year, we would like to provide some information on management practices prior to boot stage.

When on whorl stage sorghum, economic populations of sugarcane aphids can result in near total yield loss because it destroys leaf cells that provide nutrition to keep the plant growing, exert the panicle and fill the grain. The worst case is a heavy sugarcane aphid infestation on whorl stage plants. Later infestations on headed sorghum are somewhat less of a problem and may only result in minor yield losses and harvest difficulties due to honeydew accumulation.

Early detection is the key to successful sugarcane aphid management. All fields should be scouted weekly from shortly after emergence until one week before harvest. If sugarcane aphids are not found in a field then the weekly scouting should continue. If light populations of sugarcane aphids are found then the scouting should occur twice per week. The doubling of the scouting interval is because of the rapid reproduction of the aphid. As Angus Catchot, Entomologist at Mississippi State University, put it, “This is the first pest I have seen that can go from ‘barely there’ to ‘Oh my God’ in five days.

Sugarcane aphids are easy to differentiate from the other aphid pests of sorghum and there is a recognition guide posted here: .

The treatment threshold is an average of 50 – 125 aphids per leaf on whorl stage plants. Research in Texas has shown that an average of 250 aphids per leaf is around the break point where yield declines equal the cost of control, but this many aphids can cause a honeydew and sooty mold problem. The goal is to apply the insecticide soon enough to keep the aphid numbers below 250 per leaf. Quick action is needed when fields reach the economic threshold, so don’t delay in pulling the trigger. The treatment threshold is the same for susceptible sorghum and the “resistant” or “tolerant” sorghum hybrids; once threshold is reached then insecticides should be applied as soon as possible. Blayne Reed, Extension Agent in Hale, Swisher and Floyd counties, with support from all our regional IPM specialists, is leading our 2015 research on how the “resistant” hybrids withstand sugarcane aphid. It is far too early to say anything other than, from a management perspective in 2015, expect resistant hybrids to perform in line with susceptible hybrids. The so-called resistant hybrids should be scouted like susceptible hybrids and sprayed like susceptible hybrids with the yet field-unproven hope there will be fewer aphids or better performance from the “resistant” lines.

There are two good insecticides available; Sivanto and Transform. Expect each product to provide around 10 days of control. Be sure to visit the field 3 – 4 days after the application to make sure the insecticide is working. If a follow-up application is needed after 10 days then rotate to the other insecticide. Insecticide rotation is critical for resistance management; aphids are extremely dangerous as far as resistance because they are genetic clones (no sexual reproduction and mixing of resistance and susceptibility alleles). If the mother has resistance alleles then the offspring will have the same resistance alleles; if the mother survives the dose then the progeny will survive the dose, and so will all of their progeny and their progeny across generations and growing seasons. The only way to kill these resistant insects is with the other insecticide. Insecticide rotation is the key to preventing resistance, and aphids are exceptionally adept at becoming resistant.

It is important to preserve beneficial insects – they won’t prevent sugarcane aphid from reaching threshold on the High Plains (yet), but they will slow the aphid down. There is evidence from the Gulf Coast that, after three seasons of the aphid and the beneficial insects coexisting, the beneficial insects are starting the season in high enough numbers to exert a significant amount of control on the aphids. This is not the case in the High Plains; our beneficial insects have not had the chance to arm up against the aphids and we don’t have enough of them to keep aphid populations under control. But we do have enough of them to slow the aphids down and perhaps avoid an additional insecticide spray later in the season. The best way to help the beneficials is to avoid pyrethroid and organophosphate insecticide applications; use Sivanto or Transform and let the beneficials live.  We have a new publication called InsecticideSelection for Sorghum at Risk to Sugarcane Aphid Infestations, 2015. This publication discusses insecticide choice for sugarcane aphid control and insecticides to use on other pests in fields that have sugarcane aphids in them. Other sugarcane aphid resources available at We have established a statewide sugarcane aphid news website at

We don’t know what to expect in 2015 as far as sugarcane aphid. All we know for sure is that it has arrived two months earlier than last year and is now threatening whorl stage plants. We encourage weekly field scouting until the aphids are found and then twice-weekly scouting thereafter. Apply insecticides when there are 50 – 125 aphids per leaf and use either Transform or Sivanto. Check to make sure the insecticide worked and, if an additional application is needed later, be sure to rotate insecticides in order to prevent resistance.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lubbock County Positive for Sugarcane Aphid

Sugarcane aphids were found in a colony on Johnsongrass on June 29th in central Lubbock County on the north fence of the Lubbock airport. Pat Porter, Extension Entomologist, found the aphids and the identification was confirmed by three other Extension Entomologists and IPM Agents. It took only ten minutes of looking to find the colony, and 30 additional minutes of looking on other Johnsongrass elsewhere did not result in additional detections. Sorghum was not sampled but soon will be. Today's earlier post confirming sugarcane aphid in Coleman, Runnels and Tom Green counties noted that the aphid could be found on sorghum, and Dr. Charles Allen said that sorghum may be the preferred host in those counties because Johnsongrass is now in decline.

Blayne Reed, Extension Agent - IPM in Hale, Swisher and Floyd counties, did not find sugarcane aphids in any of the two dozen fields he or his scouts examined in Hale and Swisher counties today. He is confident that those fields are not infested. Floyd county has not been sampled.

Sugarcane Aphids showing up in West Central Texas

Dr. Charles Allen, Extension Entomologist, San Angelo, emailed the following to our statewide Extension entomologists last Friday, June 26:

"I got a call 2 days ago from Michael Palmer, CEA Coleman County. Michael told me he had gotten an “unconfirmed report” that there were sugarcane aphids on grain sorghum in Coleman County. I went to Abilene today to attend the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation Board meeting. After the meeting, I inspected headed Johnsongrass and pre-heading grain sorghum. I found no sugarcane aphids on the mature Johnsongrass, but I found small colonies of sugarcane aphids (10 or less) mostly without winged forms present. This field was about 1 mile north of Coleman.

In Runnels County, just west of Rowena, I inspected  the south side of field of heading grain sorghum. I found winged aphids and a single newly born nymph.

In Tom Green County, just east of San Angelo, I inspected the south side of a field of heading grain sorghum. I found winged aphids and no nymphs. It was harder to find winged adults in Tom Green County than in Runnels County.

The bottom line is, sugarcane aphids are beginning to show up in West Central Texas."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sorghum insecticides for all pests; which ones to choose in light of sugarcane aphid

Questions have arisen on which insecticides to use on pests other than sugarcane aphid so that the chance of having to also treat for sugarcane aphid does not increase. As more fields in Texas are treated with insecticides for various pests like stink bugs, sorghum midge, caterpillars and sugarcane aphid, we have developed some considerations for choosing insecticides for the different pests.

It is also important to treat these "other" pests at their economic thresholds and not withhold treatment out of worry about what sugarcane aphid might do.

Insecticide Selection for Sorghum at Risk to Sugarcane Aphid Infestations, 2015 .

Friday, May 29, 2015

SCA first found in sorghum fields in Northern Blacklands.,

  Northern Blacklands Report, May 29, 2015.

   Frequent and heavy rains during the past weeks have made many sorghum fields inaccessible to field scouting.  However, sugarcane aphids were found in very low numbers in the sorghum fields that could be scouted this past week in Hill and McLennan Counties.  Infestations average less than 1 SCA per leaf.  When found, only 1-3 scattered nymphs are present and very few colonies have been observed.  Also, very few beneficial insects are present.  The scattered nymphs and lack of colonies suggest the frequent rains this spring, often accompanied by strong winds, have knocked aphids from the plants.  This effect and cool temperatures have probably kept SCA numbers low to-date.  Sorghum is pre-boot, about 2-3 ft tall. Sugarcane aphids were found on 16% and 25% of the Johnsongrass tillers examined at two locations in McLennan County, but again SCA were typically present as scattered nymphs. Winged aphids are rare, representing less than 1% of all SCA observed.  Submitted by Allen Knutson and Marty Jungman.

Brief Update from The Coast; New Map Format

Dr. Robert Bowling, Extension Entomologist in Corpus Christi, makes the sugarcane aphid distribution maps. This year he is color coding the affected counties to reflect sugarcane aphid densities. Green indicates populations that are below the 50 aphids per leaf threshold, yellow indicates populations at threshold (50 - 125 per leaf), and red indicates large populations.

Dr. Bowling reports that SCA populations in south Texas have been much lighter than expected. This may be the result of heavy and persistent rain across large portions of Texas, but particularly south Texas. Natural enemies were present throughout the winter, and particularly lady beetles (adults and larvae, especially Scymnus lady beetle larvae) were observed among SCA at several overwintering sites. Parasitoids (one Braconid wasp but mainly Aphelinidae species) and predators like syrphid fly and lacewing larvae are abundant. Sorghum planting dates in south Texas are scattered all over the calendar. Some fields in the LRGV were planted near the end of January and the last fields were planted around the first of May. These late planted fields may be vulnerable to a wide range of pests; rice stink bug populations were very large in some wheat fields and remain active on various weed hosts. Fall armyworm populations are variable and trap collections, approximately 30 per week in the Corpus Christi area, suggest very low populations in south Texas at this time. Corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea, is practically non-existent right now (fewer than 10 moths per week over the past  4 weeks).  Sorghum midge is not much of an issue right now but has a high probability of being an issue in some of the late, late planted sorghum.

Dr. Bowling reports that SCA populations on sorghum along the Coastal Bend are starting to increase this week but populations remain very low as of this report.  Winged SCA have been found over the past three weeks but persistent rains may be hampering their ability to colonize fields.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Update on SCA in the Lower Rio Grande Valley : May 22, 2015

This week and last week I received reports of some fields being sprayed with high SCA populations mainly in the eastern Cameron reaching all the way north to the Willacy county line and in the mid Valley area in Hidalgo and Cameron counties.  However, in a lot of the LRGV grain sorghum fields we are finding SCA but in Very low numbers.  We have yet to reach the threshold of 100 SCA/leaf here at the station in Weslaco as we have had continuous SCA presence and presence of winged SCA; but natural predator populations have been seen keeping SCA numbers low below 20 per leaf or lower counts.  It is quite a difference from last year when here on the experimental fields in the AgriLife Center at Weslaco and some commercial fields in the RGV we had SCA populations of 700-2,000 per leaf.  Also this year environmental factors such as the continuous rainfall and overcast days we believe has also inhibited the SCA from reaching soaring populations. Last year we had rainfall but it was not continuous and we also had intense sunlight beaming down, while this year the rain has kept coming with overcast days and pleasant working weather conditions outside (aside from the muddy fields and mosquitos).  With that said I’d advise you to please check your fields before you spray.  Many have had the pressure to spray these last 3 weeks given the recent rainfall and potential for more rain, however I would strongly recommend that if you are not seeing an average SCA population of 100 SCA/leaf then you should wait if possible so as not to decrease the beneficial insects present keeping the SCA in check.  Please CONTINUE CHECKING your fields because it is possible a second outbreak of SCA around the harvest time as occurred last year. What we have been observing in the field is continuous predation from beneficials even as new winged aphids fly into fields and reproduce.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sugarcane aphid scouting card available

A laminated Texas sugarcane aphid scouting card is now available through most Extension Agents - IPM and Extension Specialists. The cards are also being distributed at sugarcane aphid extension meetings and field days. The card provides ready reference for scouting techniques, thresholds and shows what approximate numbers of aphids look like on a leaf.

An electronic version of the card is available here.

This card is hot off the presses and we are working on a way for people to send a stamped, self addressed envelope to have one mailed to them.

The card has photos of sugarcane aphids but does not have information on differentiating it from other aphid species. That information is available here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sugarcane Aphids in North Texas

   Surveys of Johnsongrass this spring indicate the sugarcane aphid SCA may have overwintered this year in north central Texas.  This is contrary to the earlier assumption that SCA could not overwinter in regions where its host plants, Johnsongrass and sorghum, did not remain green.  Thus, it was thought that SCA infestations in this region resulted from winged aphids carried by the wind from south Texas. While winged migrants from the south may still be important in initiating infestations in north central Texas, there is now the possibility that overwintering (local) SCA may also play a role. A likely scenario is that SCA numbers in Johnsongrass will eventually increase this spring to numbers that generate winged forms which can then fly or be blown from Johnsongrass into nearby sorghum fields. 

This spring, SCA have been found in Johnsongrass as follows: 
April 9, Hill County, near Hillsboro, TX,   
April 14, McLennan County, near McGregor, TX,   
May 5,  Hunt County, near Greenville, TX,   
May 5, Fannin County,  near Bonham, TX  

     Numbers vary from 2-3 aphids to up to 30 per colony, and are more abundant at the southern site (McLennan County).  In the most northern site, Fannin County which is on the Oklahoma border, SCA were found on only 2 of 100 Johnsongrass stems examined. Thanks to Marty Jungman who helped with the survey in Hill County. 
    I assume these are overwintering SCA since it is too early in the spring to expect winged migrants from the south to have initiated these colonies and, except for one individual in a colony of 30, winged SCA aphids have not been observed at any of these sites. In addition to SCA, bird-cherry oat aphids, greenbugs, corn leaf aphids and yellow sugarcane aphids (the latter the most abundant), along with a very few aphid  mummies, were observed in these samples.  


Monday, May 11, 2015

Update: SCA in the LRGV 5-11-2015

This week we continue to see increasing populations of SCA. Some of the first commercial sorghum fields were sprayed for SCA as of last week continuing into this week. The presence of SCA seems to be in greater abundance closer to the coast in eastern Cameron County but is dispersing rapidly as more winged aphids have emerged. On another note we are starting to see some sorghum midge in some fields.  Try to avoid spraying pyrethroids to control sorghum midge that way you will not inadvertently flare SCA populations.  Although this spring is notoriously unpredictable for weather patterns and pest populations please continue monitoring your fields, we have observed abundant numbers of beneficial insects (lady bugs, lacewing, syrphid flies, parasitoids and even spiders) that might be holding SCA below levels that could cause damages and if you disrupt them we can produce SCA outbreaks.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2015 Sugarcane Aphid Management Guide Released

The 2015 Sugarcane Aphid Management Guide has just been released and can be found at: .

This publication contains the latest information on biology, scouting, economic thresholds and insecticides for aphid control. The formal name of the publication is "Sugarcane Aphid: A New Pest of Grain and Forage Sorghum" and it has seven co-authors.

Video 4: Observations on insecticides for control of sugarcane aphid in 2015

We have just posted a 24-minute video presenting observations and discussion of insecticides for control of sugarcane aphid in the 2015 season. Seed treatments and foliar insecticides are discussed as well as best practices for insecticide use and optimal control.

Video 4: Observations on insecticides for control of sugarcane aphid in 2015.