Knowledge is power.

So, the more a wheat farmer knows about the insect pests that are likely to infest his crop, the better he’ll be able to control them, says Texas AgriLife Extension entomologist Chris Sansone.

Sansone handed out a bit of useful insect knowledge at the recent Big Country Wheat Conference in Abilene, offering identification tips and control options for the usual suspects, including grubs, aphids, greenbugs, Hessian fly, fall armyworm and grasshoppers.

He said white grubs or June bugs follow a three-year life cycle. The second year may be the most damaging. “They feed heavily in the second year,” Sansone said. “Damage in the third year, when it emerges as an adult, is limited.”

He said Texas is home to several species of white grub and they may have different life cycles. “Damage can be severe.”

Seed treatments

Gaucho and Cruiser seed treatments “will help but do not offer perfect control,” Sansone said. “Gaucho is the better grub material.”

Barley yellow dwarf (BYD) is a virus carried by an aphid. Gaucho may be a good option for control. “Treatment also may depend on when the aphid moves in. If it comes in late, wheat can tolerate it better.”

Sansone said farmers “can’t spray out BYD. And a few aphids can spread the disease. Seed treatment will help.” It’s a preventive measure because “we can’t tell if aphids are carrying BYD.”

“Greenbugs are always an issue, but we’ve seen fewer the last few years because of seed treatments. Also, Tam 112 has resistance so we recommend it if you have greenbugs.”

Seed treatments go on early, Sansone said, and a lot can happen to a wheat crop from planting to maturity. “So we might not always see a financial advantage (with seed treatments).”