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All About Bugs

Sweeping for army worms (round 2)

The last couple weeks have been all about bugs. We’ve been scouting for corn rootworm beetles, leafhoppers, and the dreaded armyworm. The armyworms have returned for another round of fun, but this time were ready for them. In anticipation of the second wave of armyworms we have been checking our grass crop fields. I started seeing them last week and they are still very small (about the diameter of a toothpick) and around a quarter inch long. The first time the armyworms appeared I could find them by looking at the ground on my hands and knees, but due to their small size we have been using our sweep nets to catch them. So far, I’ve found a handful of fields above threshold with this new infestation and I’m sure we’ll be keeping an eye out for increasing worm populations.

We’ve also been doing the weekly checks for leafhoppers in alfalfa fields. I discussed this in previous posts, but the basic idea it is to sweep the field each week after it has been mowed to see if the leafhoppers are above threshold. Once the population of leafhoppers is evaluated and if it is found to be above threshold the field will be treated or mowed. If the population is lower than the threshold I return to sweep the field again next week. The other insect we have been busy looking for is corn rootworm adult beetles. This type of scouting requires three successive visits to the same field over a three week period. The corn field must be from 80 – 100% tasseled and we look at three groups of ten corn plants and count the total number of corn rootworm beetles hiding in the collars of the leaves. I have to admit this is my least favorite scouting for a couple reasons. One being that I am arachnophobic and there are often all kinds of spiders and webs in the tall corn. The other being the tons of pollen and anthers that rain down on you all day and make you itch like crazy! But its all part of the fun I guess .

scouting for rootworm beetles in the sunshine

Last week we had a little celebration for WNYCMA. The bosses, David and Dierdre DeGolyer, had a nice picnic for all the employees and several of our farmer customers to celebrate 25 years of service to area farmers. We all gathered and had a good meal with steaks, hotdogs, and all the different deli salads you could imagine. Then David gave us a little history on WNYCMA and several longtime employees talked about the various changes in crop production and management over the years. We also talked about current issues such as the effect the drought is having on the corn and the second coming of the armyworms. After that, we went to a soybean field and did some training on identifying 2 spotted spider mites and their symptoms commonly found in soybeans. With the long period of dry weather the mites are also an issue this year. It was a nice event and was interesting to see how much a local business has grown in the last quarter century.

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