Virginia Cotton: Plant Bug Control in Blooming Fields

Tarnished plant bug nymph on cotton bloom. Photo: Virginia Cooperative Extension

Tarnished plant bugs continue to be a problem in some Virginia cotton fields. This week, scouts found 14 of 32 fields over the pre-bloom threshold (8 per 100 sweeps) and increasing numbers of nymphs.

Drop cloth sampling is recommended for blooming cotton and counting squares is no longer a good indication of feeding. Threshold is 2-3 bugs per sample.

Check out the short video below if you have questions on how to use this method or are unsure of what nymphs look like. Dirty blooms indicate feeding, but active populations should be confirmed before a spray is made.

As cotton begins to bloom, neonicotinoids (e.g., Admire Pro, Centric, Belay) lose efficacy and I recommend rotating to a pyrethroid, a pyrethroid/acephate mix, or Bidrin. These products will  also control stink bugs if present.

Transform is not labeled in Virginia, but our representative in Richmond is working hard to get us a Section 18 and I hope to have one in place by next year at the latest. All of these products will kill beneficial predators in your field. This is a concern as we near bollworm egg lay in cotton.

I encourage you to treat for insect pests only when thresholds are reached. Plant bug control will likely be needed through mid-August when populations peak, even in fields that have been previously sprayed.

Spider mites, aphids, and bollworm (in two-gene cotton) risk increases with each broad-spectrum insecticide use, as does the risk for sprayer fatigue.

Special thanks to graduate student Seth Dorman and crew for their continued scouting efforts.

Plant Bug Spacial Abundance. Click Image to Enlarge


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