Though the cotton insect season — for all practical purposes — is now over, it’s still a useful exercise to look back over this past year to see if there’s something that might be carried forward to 2011, says Ron Smith, Auburn University Extension entomologist.

“The heat and lack of rainfall knocked about three or four weeks off our production season this year, and that also cut three or four weeks from our insect year,” says Smith. “The weather was the dominant factor in 2010, and overall I’d classify cotton insects as lighter than normal in Alabama, although that is not true throughout the U.S. Cotton Belt.”

There has been tremendous pressure this year from different insect species from the Mid-South to South Carolina, which had heavy bollworm pressure, he says. “Thrips and aphid pressure was pretty light here, and bollworms also were fairly light. We had conventional cotton maybe that ought to have been sprayed for bollworms, but it wasn’t. But boll damage wasn’t very bad on conventional cotton with no sprays in central Alabama. Tobacco budworms haven’t been a problem here but they have been in southwest Georgia,” says Smith.

There has been some level of fall armyworms on Alabama cotton this year, but not as bad as in 2009, he adds. “It’s different in other crops. There are two strains of fall armyworms, and one will feed on other crops,” he says.