What is in this article?:
• This year several crop-damaging populations of sugarcane beetles have shown up in Virginia corn fields.
• When you’ve got sugarcane beetles in your corn, there’s little you can do in terms of a curative treatment.
Even fields that are infested have hot spots in which corn plants are destroyed, but it’s questionable whether there is any reason to go out and spray corn to prevent infestations from occurring, unless you are growing it in areas adjacent to a sod field or behind a grass cover crop” he says.
The big fear is that the problem will continue to be more widespread in the future and become a serious economic pest to corn production in Virginia and surrounding states.
If corn growers decide to spray for sugarcane beetles, Ward suggests spraying early in the morning, the closer to dawn the better.
A number of seed treatments have shown to help prevent feeding by adult sugarcane beetles and a number of systemic organophosphate and neonictinoid-containing insecticides have proven effective in killing the beetles.
The key to managing the pest is early recognition. If there is damage, it’s a good bet there are more insects in the field, especially if the field had a ryegrass cover crop. Replanting damaged hot spots and treating the entire field may be an option in severe infestations of the insect, Ward says.
He stresses that applying an insecticide on corn that is already damaged is not going to do much good.
Though sugarcane beetles are a frequent pest in North Carolina, veteran North Carolina State Corn Specialist Ron Heiniger says there have been no reports of the insect in corn this year.
“When we heard about sugarcane beetles occurring in southeast Virginia, we sent out a notice to all our county Extension personnel asking if they had any reports of damage to corn that matches damage from these beetles, and we didn’t get any indication anyone has seen the problem so far this year,” Heiniger says.