Controlling insects, balancing economics

A field crops entomologist is encouraging growers to scout for some insects that thrive in dry conditions.

Chris DiFonzo with Michigan State University tells Brownfield sucking insects like aphids and potato leaf hopper, along with spider mites can cause more damage in drought conditions.

“If it’s drier, it’s usually warmer, so insects and mites are developing faster,” she explains. “Drought-stressed plants tend to be a better diet for these insects, so when the plants are stressed, they have different compounds in them. It’s like a steak dinner versus a hamburger dinner.”

She says scouting and considering the economics of pest control is especially important this year when some areas might need to be abandoned.

“Use the thresholds, spray only if needed and if you are going to spray for like leaf hoppers, you might want to be cautious and use a product that will also have mite control,” she says. “Is this stand worth it?”

DiFonzo says a benefit of dry weather is the likelihood of less pressure from corn borer or western bean cutworm.

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