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Insecticide Management

Your Insect Management Program
Insect pests can reduce yield, quality and profit. This year, three-cornered alfafa hoppers were particularly bad in many Southeast fields. Study of this pest and others results in changes to the recommendations, even when new insecticide products have not been introduced. Study the charts carefully to be sure you are using the best product for your pest problem.

It is not always easy to know when to treat fields with an insecticide. Typically fields should be treated when insects reach or exceed established thresholds. These thresholds vary by state, and each grower must decide how many insects can be tolerated before treating. For plants that are stressed, a lower treatment threshold should be used. Also important to remember is that insects can vector certain diseases, such as Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus.

For an Effective Insect Management Program:
• Scout for possible problems. Insects such as the velvetbean caterpillar can be easily controlled, but will reduce yields if not controlled in a timely fashion.
• Know the weather conditions that favor outbreaks. Hot, dry conditions are preferred by lesser cornstalk borers; wet periods favor southern corn rootworm.
• Make foliar insecticide decisions on a field-by-field basis. Use insecticides only when necessary. High-risk situations may justify preventative applications to control thrips or soil insects.

Weigh Insecticide Decisions Carefully
The benefits of an insecticide application must be weighed carefully against potential damage to beneficial insects, secondary pest outbreaks and development of resistance. The state of growth, variety and duration of feeding damage should be factored into treatment decisions.