Kendal Wright made a good grain sorghum crop last year, one of the best ever. The 2014 crop, he says, “could be better. It looks excellent.”

So he doesn’t intend to let a heavy infestation of sugarcane aphids jeopardize his chances. “Aphid populations are getting pretty bad,” he says. “So far, we’ve only had to spray 800 of the 2,500 acres of milo we plant.” He farms with his father, Kenneth, in Hunt County, Texas, about 100 miles east and a bit north of Dallas.

“We’re keeping a close eye on aphid numbers,” Kendal says. “They can go from just a few to a whole lot in a few days. So far, we haven’t had a lot of damage, but we’ve seen a lot of honeydew.”

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They had that last year, too, a sticky, shiny secretion aphids leave on plant leaves. Kendal says it was so bad last year he thought he had a fluid leak from his combine. “It can be a nightmare if you don’t take care of the aphids.”

The potential for damage is greater this year, says Jim Swart, Texas AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist.

“They came in late last year,” Swart says. “They didn’t cause a lot of yield loss but they did create some harvest problems with the honeydew. They started about three weeks earlier this year, and we’ve seen a lot of honeydew. We’ve been watching closely since they identified infestations in South Texas and moved north.”