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Sugarcane aphid numbers are increasing rapidly in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley and appear to be moving into corn as well.
A heavy infestation of sugarcane aphids is shown migrating from the grain sorghum stalk to the head.
EPA has authorized a Section 18 to Texas Department of Agriculture for the use of Transform WG (sulfoxaflor) on sorghum to control sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari) as of April 24, 2014. “Hopefully, that will help avoid serious crop losses in the current crop of about 250,000 acres, planted in mid-February to be harvested in late June or early July.”
Because of its subtropical climate, Lower Rio Grande Valley growers typically plant a second, much smaller crop of about 50,000 acres in August, which they typically harvest in December.
“The sugarcane aphid…is a serious threat,” Villanueva said. “As are most aphid species, it is parthenogenetic, meaning populations are all female and don’t require a male to reproduce. When populations become overcrowded, some develop wings and fly off to other fields or plants to colonize there. As soon as they land they don’t lay eggs, they simply give birth to new female aphids. That’s one reason why populations can quickly spread and reach critical levels.”
Aside from the Rio Grande Valley, the sugarcane aphid has also been reported this year in Mexico, Corpus Christi and Beaumont. Both Villanueva and Sekula-Ortiz believe populations will continue moving north as they did last year when they migrated as far as Oklahoma.