This year’s excessive rainfall in much of the Southeast created delays from planting all the way through to harvest and caused some unusual combinations of insect problems that veteran entomologists in the region haven’t seen often, and in some cases ever.

Typically, plant bugs, for example, are a problem on less than 5 percent of cotton acreage. This year the wet, extended cool weather provided an ideal environment that amped up the plant bug pressure throughout the Carolinas and Virginia.

Combine the higher than usual populations of plant bugs, with usually high stink bug populations, lower than expected corn earworm populations, early fall armyworms and kudzu bugs and growers found more and more problems getting the right insecticide on at the right time to take care of different combinations of these pests.

And, the unusual weather extended into the late summer months, which continued to challenge entomologists and growers alike.

For example, soybean aphids were reported in several areas in late August. It is typically a cool season pest, which doesn’t often happen in August in the Southeast, but cool weather this year even brought this pest into play as harvest approached.

In Virginia, Virginia Tech Entomologist and IPM Leader Ames Herbert said, “some unlucky growers were faced with a heretofore undocumented pest mixture that could include soybean aphid, brown marmorated stink bug and other stink bug species, kudzu bug, corn earworm, green cloverworm and armyworm species. What a mess.”

Likewise, plant bugs, when they appear in cotton in the Carolinas and Virginia, are usually gone fairly early in the season, but not this year. Using a black drop cloth and shaking cotton plants in a 2.5 foot area on both sides of the row, North Carolina State University Entomologist Dominic Reisig said he continued finding plant bugs in damaging numbers well into August.

Reising sasid many cotton growers aren’t familiar with plant bugs and if they sample, they often try sampling with the wrong equipment. “It’s like choosing a crescent wrench to work on your car and finding you need a socket wrench instead — it just won’t work,” he said.

The North Carolina State researcher said a black drop cloth works best for plant bugs. These tiny insects have distinct green color that seems to pop out on a black background, he adds.