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Department of Entomology

Department of Entomology
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Manhattan KS 66506-4004

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Stories from 2006

Fall Wheat Problems -- Army cutworms, chinch bugs and winter grain mites showing up in winter wheat crop plus mild fall has allowed Hessian fly activity late into the season. Growers will want to watch fields closely for any signs of problems

Multi-legged Home Invaders Now Looking for Shelter

GARDEN CITY, Kan. - Oct. 26, 2006 - The fall cool-off that serves as an annual signal for the insect world is the same one that sends squirrels on a frenzy of tree planting (nut burying). Typically, this true cool-off arrives in late October or early November. And, in its wake, comes the season´s march of insect-type household invaders: crickets, millipedes, centipedes, Asian lady beetles, boxelder bugs, red-shouldered bugs, spiders, sowbugs and pillbugs."The pests are just looking for winter shelter. Most are more of a nuisance than a threat. I doubt that will be much com fort, though, if hundreds of multi-legged guests decide to visit you this year," said Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University Research and Extension entomologist.

Look Down to See March of Woollybears

GARDEN CITY, Kan. -September 28, 2006– The woollybears are on the march now in parts of Kansas. Spotters have seen large groups crossing roads and bare fields. Despite their name, woollybears are neither woolly nor bears. They also don’t march very well. They’re hairy-looking moth larvae – in this case, yellow woollybear caterpillars and a few banded ones.

Can We Blame Them on Pennsylvania?
Little Black Bugs Invade Central Kansas
MANHATTAN, Kan. -September 14, 2006- Kansas State University entomologist Jeff Whitworth found himself in a strangely familiar situation recently. The scientist, whose daily work involves helping farmers and ranchers manage insect problems in their crops, checked into a central Kansas hotel and found that it was infested by hundreds of little black bugs.

Hand Picking Bagworms Best Late-Summer Option

MANHATTAN, KAN. -August 24, 2006- Infested trees and shrubs can develop such a ragged appearance by late August that homeowners want to make time for an emergency bagworm treatment. “By mid-August, though, most bagworms have completed their feeding and tied off their bags, remaining inside,” said Bob Bauernfeind, entomologist with Kansas State University Research and Extension. “So, spraying won’t work, because you’ll just be spraying bags, not the grown-up larvae.

Watch for Early Signs of ‘Headworms’ in Sorghum, K-State Scientist Says

MANHATTAN, Kan. - August 16, 2006 – “Headworms” are beginning to show up in some sorghum fields and Kansas State University scientist Jeff Whitworth says scouting for the worms while they are still small is important.

Webworms Now Spinning to Hide Their Leaf-Eating Attacks on Trees

MANHATTAN, Kan. August 16, 2006 - The webworms are having a good year, so a host of trees may look like they’re in dire shape by August’s end. Some could lose all their leaves. Two major “worm” types are at work: * The fall webworm, which will feed on almost any tree that isn’t an evergreen. It particularly likes isolated shade or “specimen” trees, rather than trees surrounded by other trees. * The mimosa webworm, which in the central High Plains specializes in honeylocust trees.

Plant Galls Gallingly Hard to Control

MANHATTAN, Kan. - July 13 - Galls are abnormal growths formed from the tissue of woody plants. Much as warts or pimples erupt on human skin, galls appear on plant leaves or sometimes twigs. Galls tend to look wrong, ugly. They also can be unnerving if heavy galling causes premature leaf drop and infested-looking leaves litter the ground. Or, if galling makes woody twigs look dead. Scientists know remarkably little about the growths, said Bob Bauernfeind, entomologist with Kansas State University Research and Extension. What they have learned, however, suggests galls actually distress humans more than plants:

Time to Check For Corn Rootworm Injury

Released: July 06, 2006 -- GARDEN CITY, Kan. – With the 4th of July just past, Kansas State University’s Phil Sloderbeck advises that now is a good time for growers to assess corn rootworm injury.

K-State Scientist Looking for Hessian Fly Infestations MANHATTAN, Kan.- June 29 - If you have flies - Hessian flies in your wheat, that is - Kansas State University scientist Jeff Whitworth would like to talk to you.The Hessian fly has been a perennial wheat pest in Kansas since 1871, said Whitworth, who is an entomologist with K-State Research and Extension. Related yield losses have increased since 2000. Infestations seem to have lessened in 2006, but localized problems have continued. K-State entomologists are trying to initiate research to determine the impact two factors may have had on the recent population changes: 1) the increasingly popular practice of minimum tillage, 2) warmer winters, or 3) both. In an effort to locate potential sites on which to conduct this research, Whitworth is asking Kansas wheat growers with known Hessian fly infestations to notify their county or district Extension agricultural agent or contact him (Whitworth) by telephone at 785-532-5891 or 785-532-5656 or by e-mail at jwhitwor@ksu.edu .

No Proven Methods Developed To Control Oak Gall Itch - Yet, Scientist Concerned About Advertising Claims Released: June 22, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – Research is ongoing, but so far there are no recommended or proven methods to control the pesky oak gall itch mites that plagued some Midwesterners the past two years, a Kansas State University scientist said. “Because of the itching, painful bites that these mites can inflict, homeowners are eager to learn of ways to control them,” said K-State Research and Extension entomologist Alberto Broce. That’s understandable, he said, but he is concerned about calls he has fielded from citizens who have heard tree services’ advertising claims that they can spray trees to control the mites.

White Birches Showing Borer Damage

Released: June 12, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – The first symptom is dead branches in the upper reaches of a European white birch tree – valued in today’s landscapes for its showy white bark with black markings. In following years, “D” shaped holes appear in the bark that’s lower on the tree. “The damage begins each year in mid-spring and continues into later summer. If left unchecked, these borers eventually can kill a white birch,” said Bob Bauernfeind, landscape entomologist with Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Scout Wheat Now for Chinch Bugs to Help Other Crops Later

Released: June 8, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – The time to scout for chinch bugs is now, as this year’s wheat crop matures, a Kansas State University entomologist said. "Last year was unique. We received no calls relative to chinch bugs or damage caused by chinch bugs," said K-State Research and Extension entomologist Jeff Whitworth. "Hopefully, the same will be true of 2006, but growers should be scouting for the nymphs now."

Miller Moths Just Visiting on Way to Rockies

Released: June 8, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – Anyone living in wheat or alfalfa country during late spring knows about the "miller moth" – an umbrella name for all kinds of brown, seemingly nondescript moths that suddenly appear to be everywhere, a Kansas State University scientist said. "They’re the adults of army cutworms, which like to feed on those two crops. In town, however, they’re just an annoyance factor," said Bob Bauernfeind, entomologist with K-State Research and Extension.

Midwesterners Who Suspect Itch Mites Should Not Rush to Treat Trees

Released: May 26, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – Itch mites that plagued some Midwestern communities over the last two years probably are not active and biting yet this year. Spraying trees to eradicate them before they become active may be futile, a Kansas State University scientist said.

Fire Ants Signal Need to Monitor New Plants

Released: May 11, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – When buying garden or house plants that originated out of state, nurseries and gardeners both may be helping insect pests invade Kansas. Anyone who brings plants along when moving into the state or coming back from vacation may also import invaders. Fire ants, for example, showed up in Wichita this spring, said Sharon Dobesh, entomologist with Kansas State University Research and Extension. The highly aggressive, blister-producing ants were on a tropical hibiscus from Florida.

Scientist Sheds Light On African Honey Bees

MANHATTAN, Kan. -May 2, 2006– News of the African honey bee’s (AHB) migration toward the central United States has surfaced recently, and while much of is true, a Kansas State University entomologist believes a few more details would be helpful. “These bees, sometimes called ‘killer bees’ are indistinguishable from the common European honey bees (EHB) we are used to as far as appearance,” said Jeff Whitworth, with K-State Research and Extension. “They have to be collected and sent to a lab to determine, physically, whether they are African honey bees or European honey bees. The AHBs are more aggressive at defending their territory, however, and thus the problem.

Spray Soon to Control Ash and Lilac Borers

Released: April 27, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansans should be spraying now to combat the borers that attack lilac, privet, ash and mountain ash.

European Pine Sawflies Controllable Now

Released: April 27, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – European pine sawflies are near the end of this year’s feeding cycle – primarily on Scots and mugo pines.

Insect Surveys, Models Demonstrate Importance of Scouting Alfalfa Now

MANHATTAN, Kan.- Released: April 12, 2006 – Kansas State University entomologist Randy Higgins is encouraging agricultural producers, Extension agents and crop scouts to be especially vigilant in scouting now for alfalfa weevils and aphids. Scattered reports indicate that weevil larvae are causing damage in some areas , so treatments are getting underway.

K-State Entomologist Provides Tips for Rootworm Management

Released: April 07, 2006 -- MANHATTAN, Kan. – Corn producers have a lot to consider when it comes to rootworm management, said Randy Higgins, field crop entomology specialist with Kansas State University Research and Extension. A Bt rootworm corn hybrid and refuge, crop rotation and planting-time insecticides are a few of the options available for producers today. Ultimately it’s a decision of whether or not the crop will receive significant rootworm damage, what is economically feasible and what management strategies will create the highest profit margin for the producer.

Children May Need Help With Fears About ‘Killer Bees’

GARDEN CITY, Kan. -April 5, 2006– Children may have understood just two words – “killer bees” – when the media covered last week’s Kansas Department of Agriculture release about whether or when Africanized honeybees could move into the state. “If so, parents need to reassure their kids and help them learn some basics about bees,” said Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University Research and Extension entomologist.

Entomologist Suggests Corn Growers Consider Pest Issues Before Planting

MANHATTAN, Kan. March 23, 2006—Kansas enjoyed a mild, albeit dry winter through much of the state, but that does not necessarily mean farmers will see more insects in their corn this year, a Kansas State University entomologist said. “Populations of most below-ground insects, such as wireworms and white grubs, probably were not greatly affected,” said Randy Higgins, field crop entomology specialist with K-State Research and Extension.

Alfalfa Weevils Evident in Some Kansas Fields

MANHATTAN, Kan. March 22, 2006– Alfalfa weevil eggs are hatching, and small larvae are feeding on the new growth (terminals) apparent in some Kansas alfalfa fields, a Kansas State University scientist said. K-State Research and Extension entomologist Jeff Whitworth has been fielding producers’ reports about the insects. Samples taken from fields in mid-March confirmed the activity.

Watch For Aphids in Wheat This Spring

MANHATTAN, Kan. March 09, 2006: If dry conditions persist into early spring, it may be good for something growing in Kansas wheat fields – but it’s not the wheat, a Kansas State University scientist said. “Dry, relatively mild, early spring weather seems to favor greenbug reproduction and the dry conditions do not favor the growing wheat,”

Termite-Related E-mails Ignoring Established Facts

MANHATTAN, Kan. - March 03, 2006– Tiny, voracious Formosan termites – which don’t need soil to survive – are rapidly spreading across the Internet. They’re the subject of e-mails from gardeners concerned that the pest may be making its way north in wood mulch and railroad ties from hurricane-ravaged Louisiana. “If so, the termites are really beating the odds, and their shippers are breaking the law,” said Ward Upham, horticulturist with Kansas State University Research and Extension.