As of the last week in June, Louisiana is “definitely” in the aphid business, says Ralph Bagwell, LSU AgCenter Extension entomologist.
“Aphids are being seen north to south and border to border. It stopped raining last Thursday (June 19) and ever since then aphid populations have done nothing but build. And they've built at a fairly rapid pace. As a result, a lot of fields are being sprayed for aphids,” he says.
So far, the aphid-killer fungus, Neozygites fresenii, hasn't progressed enough to halt the aphid march.
“It's here,” says Bagwell, “but we're still in the initial phases of infection. We haven't had a good enough chance to sample over a wide enough area to see if we're getting the start of an epizootic yet.”
As more samples are gathered from fields, Bagwell and colleagues will have a better handle on the status of the fungus. The fungus shows up about the first of July in the state — “so we're very close. All of us use the Don Steinkraus Web site (www.uark.edu/misc/aphid/) and gather samples to send to him. That's a great service that Don and Cotton Incorporated provide. It tracks the fungus and helps saves a bunch of money that would otherwise be spent on unnecessary sprayings.”
Regarding other pests, Bagwell says there are some “strange, rare things” going on around Louisiana.
“Last week, we were finding higher numbers of flea hoppers than tarnished plant bugs. Flea hoppers have been more prevalent than tarnished plant bugs. I've never seen that in Louisiana. We had some fields treated specifically for flea hoppers.
“Flea hoppers are most prevalent in Texas — especially the Corpus Christi area in the south. We've seen them in Louisiana before and occasionally spray a field for them. But this year, for some reason, we're seeing very abnormal, high populations.”
(Editor's note: for more information on the Steinkraus Web site, see “Aphid program saves farmers money” in the June 27 Delta Farm Press or visit www.deltafarmpress.com)