Be on the alert for fall armyworms this fall

From Insects in the City

Pest management professionals who care for lawns should be on the alert for fall armyworms this fall. Higher-than-normal populations of this lawn-eating insect have been reported from many areas in Texas these past two weeks.

While fall armyworms are nothing new, according to Dr. Allen Knutson, extension agricultural entomologist in Dallas, this year they are a widespread problem for hay producers and small grains producers across the state.  “I’ve had calls as far west as Wichita Falls, south to Comanche and across east Texas,” he said.  Locally in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, my turfgrass colleague, Dr. Lindsey Hoffman, and I have gotten many calls this week from concerned lawn owners, schools and the media. Continue reading

AgriLife Extension effort monitors sugarcane aphid seasonal movement

by Steve Byrnes, AgriLife Extension

A minuscule pest few Texas farmers had ever heard of three years ago has quickly gained notoriety as the most important insect pest of grain and forage sorghum in Texas, said an expert entomologist.

The pest is the sugarcane aphid, and it’s already been found infesting sorghum in the lower Rio Grande Valley and lower Gulf Coast this year, said Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist at Dallas. As in past years, the sugarcane aphid is expected to move into Central Texas and eventually the Texas High Plains, potentially infesting all of Texas’ sorghum-producing regions by late summer. Continue reading

Bermuda grass stem maggot advances across Texas

After a year of low activity, the Bermuda grass stem maggot has returned with a vengeance and spread quickly across Texas.

“Since 2013, this new pest has rapidly expanded its range in Texas and is now found throughout much of East, Central and South Texas, and as far west as Abilene and San Antonio,” said Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, Dallas.

There have also been reports of the pest even farther west in the Brownwood and Anson areas, said Charles Allen, AgriLife Extension entomologist, San Angelo. Continue reading

Texas Entomologists Win Regional Award for Successful Biocontrol of Invasive Saltcedar

The invasive saltcedar now has a formidable foe, thanks to a team of Texas A&M AgriLife Entomlogists and efforts by over a dozen stakeholders and agencies. Once a giant that lapped up riparian water resources and caused flooding by altering stream flow, saltcedars are now losing ground to three species of leaf beetles that are literally eating them to death. Behind the success of this pest management effort is a regional collaboration of federal, state and private agencies led by the Saltcedar Biological Control Team consisting of Dr. Allen Knutson and Dr. Mark Muegge, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Dr. Jerry Michels and Erin Jones, Texas A&M AgriLife Research. In February, these four entomologists received the Friends of Southern IPM Pulling Together award at the meeting of the Southwestern Branch of the Entomology Society of America.

Continue reading