By Clint Thompson
The Georgia Cotton Commission encourages producers to scout their fields for tarnished plant bugs and spray appropriately.
What normally has not been a major cotton pest for Georgia growers is increasing in numbers this season, says University of Georgia Cooperative Extension cotton entomologist Phillip Roberts.
“Historically, plant bugs have not been a major pest for us here in Georgia. It’s one we should always scout for, and we treat some acres every year. But this year, this is the most plant bugs I’ve seen in my career of 25 years,” Roberts said. “That doesn’t mean it’s every field or anything like that. But there are some fields with above threshold populations that need to be addressed. We’re for sure going to spray more plant bugs than we ever have in my career this year.
“We want to get people looking so they don’t have a problem.”
Plant bugs can be a serious problem if not managed with insecticides. But chemical applications should only be used if thresholds are exceeded. Insecticides will disrupt beneficial insect populations as well.
“I do want people not to under-estimate the impact of the tarnished plant bug. It’s a double edge sword. We can’t just go out there and spray just because we might have them, because when we spray plant bugs, we kill a lot of beneficials that help us on corn earworms,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the goal of a plant bug management program is to retain at least 80% of first positions entering bloom.
Tarnished plant bugs are a quarter-inch long with a brown color mottled by patches of white, yellow, reddish-brown or black. A light-colored ‘V’ behind the head and two light patches on the back of the wings are also characteristic.