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Insecticide Management

Your Insect Management Program
Insect pests can reduce yield, quality and profit. Subterranean feeders, such as lesser cornstalk borers and southern corn rootworm, will feed directly on the pods, making in-shell products unattractive to buyers. Foliage feeders, such as armyworms, can consume enough foliage to reduce the plant's ability to grow and mature pods. Insects may also be vectors of devastating diseases, such as tomato spotted wilt. While eliminating insect pests is impossible, managing insect pests is both feasible and profitable.

For an Effective Insect Management Program:
Scout for possible insect problems. Some insects, such as the velvetbean caterpillar, can be easily controlled, but will cause serious yield reductions if controls are not applied in a timely fashion. Know the weather conditions that favor different insect outbreaks. For example, hot and dry conditions are preferred by lesser cornstalk borers, while the southern corn rootworm is more prevalent during wet periods. Make foliar insecticide decisions on a field-by-field basis. Use insecticides only when necessary. Scouting is a good way to determine if an insecticide is necessary, however, high-risk situations may justify preventative applications to control thrips or soil insects.

Weigh Insecticide Decisions Carefully
As with other pests, correct identification of the insect problem is critical to control. Indiscriminate use of insecticides wastes money and can create problems later in the season. The benefits of an insecticide application must be weighed carefully against potential damage to beneficial insects, secondary pest outbreaks and development of resistance.