Texas AgriLife Extension IPM agents in West Texas caution growers to watch for early-season insects that could cause significant damage, especially to plants already suffering from environmental stresses.

Spider mites and thrips are the primary targets.

Monti Vandiver, IPM agent for the Northwest Plains, has observedspider mites in corn and sorghum, particularly on field margins. “Now would be a good time to start developing a spider mite management plan,” he says “Primary strategies are threshold based curative methods or a preventive approach.”

He recommends tactics that protect beneficials insects. “When considering a preventive miticide application, remember current products are not systemic and will only protect the leaves that are sprayed—any subsequent growth will not be protected. Applications to small corn or sorghum are also less cost effective when considering that less miticide is intercepted by the plant versus an application made to larger crop near canopy closure.”

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An extra application could pay off, he says. “The additional cost of a ‘dedicated’ preventive miticide application would likely be a good trade for the added protection offered by more crop coverage.”

He’s also seeing increased pressure from thrips in cotton. “I have observed immature thrips in some cotton that had a seed treatment insecticide applied. If immature thrips are present following seed treatments, the treatment has lost or is losing its effectiveness. Treatment thresholds for thrips in cotton are dynamic; under good growing conditions a foliar treatment should be considered when one thrips per true leaf is present, but in cotton growing slowly due to poor environmental conditions or other stress, the threshold should be reduced by half.”

Cotton stressed by recent storms should be watched closely. “It cannot afford additional loss of leaf tissue,” Vandiver says. “The lack of leaf surface area will make application coverage even more important. I cannot stress enough the need make timely insecticide applications for thrips. Insecticide applications based on visual plant symptoms are late and will not provide the economic benefit of a timely application and are what I like to call a ‘revenge’ treatment.”