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AgriLife officials were astounded at the rapid jump in aphid numbers.
"At first we were just seeing a few aphids in corn and sugarcane, but over the course of a week these numbers increased rather rapidly and we are continuing to monitor the spread of the aphid to other crops beyond sorghum," she added.
Sugarcane is a year-round crop and that adds to concern over the proliferation of the new aphid variety. While population densities in corn are not alarming at this point, a greater number of the aphids are being found in sugarcane.
"One reason we are so concerned about the rapid movement of this pest is that we are getting reports of the new aphid from places like Louisiana and have heard they were found in Oklahoma late last year. At this point some are suggesting that by the end of the growing season we may see the new aphid showing up as far north as Kansas, so this is a concern that goes far beyond the Rio Grande Valley."
Sekula-Ortiz says one of the reasons for concern is that the white sugarcane aphid is a more serious threat because it can more readily spread plant viruses.
"It's a much better vector of viruses like yellow leaf virus, and that's a real concern. You know, we thought about advising growers to skip a fall planting of sorghum as a defensive strategy to help control this aphid, but now that we are beginning to realize the outbreak may include other crops like sugarcane that strategy would be ineffective. We still have a lot to learn about this pest, so our research will continue."