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.