Mindfulness, considered by Buddhists as the path to enlightenment, is a critical virtue in cotton insect control too, says one expert.

Alabama Extension entomologist Ron Smith devoted part of the morning at the Wiregrass Cotton Expo, in Dothan, Ala., to underscore to southeast Alabama cotton producers why a little extra mindfulness with their insect management strategies can help them tighten their grips on major cotton insects.

One notable example: thrips control, which for producers of early planted cotton, caused one of the biggest headaches of the season last year, says Smith.

He says growers should be especially mindful of over-sprays on seed treatments planted from early April to May 10. This remains an important safeguard because treatments provide only about 21 days of thrips suppression, compared with the 28 days that older products such as Temik provided.

Over-sprays provided added protection during seven critical days in early season when the plants are vulnerable to thrips.

Over-sprays are most effective during the plant’s first true leaf, which is about the size of a small fingernail, Smith says. Cotton with four or more true leaves typically does not benefit from these over-sprays, he stresses.

The results of multi-state research projects reveal that acephate — either Orthene or the generic products — provide the best results. Pyrethroids were shown to be less effective.

While Bidrin was shown to be effective, Smith says this product is best held in reserve for possible stink bug infestations later in the growing season.

On the other hand, two new products, Benevia and Radiant, developed by Dupont and Dow, respectively, appear to be highly effective on thips. However, there is still some uncertainty about when they will be registered and their costs, Smith says.

Plant bugs are another species that could use more mindfulness, especially in terms of how climate patterns affect their movement, Smith says.

“You typically get really sharp spikes of plant bug movement during hot springs, although this doesn’t last very long,” he says, adding that the bug’s movement tends to be less intense during cool, wet springs, even though it lasts longer.

The most effective insecticides for plant bugs include acephate, either Orthene or the generic brands. Other options include Bidrin, although it is labeled only for the post-bloom period. Centric, while effective, also suppresses beneficial species, including fire ants.