In the Mid-South, insects are a lot like the weather. From year to year, you never know what to expect. So far this season, insect infestations have featured many of the usual suspects — thrips, bollworms, plant bugs and spider mites. But unexpected visitors are also crashing the party, including surprisingly high numbers of yellow-striped armyworms, according to state entomologists.

Arkansas

“The hot, dry weather has been very conducive to a lot of our pests, and right now, we’re experiencing a huge yellow-striped armyworm outbreak in soybeans,” said Gus Lorenz, Extension entomologist, University of Arkansas. “There are a lot of applications going out, and it is causing some severe defoliation in a lot of cases.”

The problem is statewide, according to Lorenz, “from Clay County all the way down into southeast Arkansas.”

In cotton “plant bugs are really rolling as our cotton nears bloom. We’re seeing a lot of pre-bloom, treatment-level plant bugs that in a lot of cases are three to four times the threshold.”

Lorenz said spider mites are a problem “from one end of the state to the other, where it’s been dry.”

Lorenz said cotton bollworm trap counts, which have been monitored since the beginning of May “have yet to peak on population. The numbers continue to keep going up. Our trap counts are 20 percent to 30 percent higher than last year, which was a heavy bollworm year. Right now, we’re seeing a big egg lay of bollworms, particularly in the south part of the state, but it’s creeping north.”

In rice, “chinch bugs have been the worst I believe I’ve ever seen,” Lorenz said. “We’ve sprayed more acres in rice than I’ve ever seen. We’ve also had false chinch bugs in cotton and soybeans. It’s been a busy insect year so far, and it’s not shaping up for a quiet rest of the summer.”