Cotton fleahoppers are appearing in Oklahoma cotton fields, according to Terry Pitts, Oklahoma State University Extension IPM specialist.

“We are currently at the four- to eight-leaf stage on cotton in Oklahoma,” Pitts said. “In addition, we are at 653 degree-days. Some of the early planted cotton has pinhead to match-head squares. Cotton planted in mid-April is normally at or in the process of forming pinhead sized squares. Due primarily to stress caused by hot, dry temperatures and strong winds, pinhead squares have not formed in the 2008 crop.

“The bulk of cotton acreage at this stage is in southern Oklahoma. If you normally make your fleahopper insecticide application at the pinhead growth stage, next week could be the week to make the application,” he said.

“Fleahoppers are the last of the early season cotton pests and has become the number one pest in Oklahoma cotton. Fleahoppers should be controlled thresholds are exceeded to protect beneficial insects since these will help control later occurring pests. After July 25, controlling cotton fleahoppers generally is not economical due to Oklahoma's short growing season.”

Pitts said spray decisions should be based on squaring rate and level of cotton fleahopper infestations. “Usually, when cotton fleahoppers (adults and nymphs) reach or exceed 40 per 1,000 terminals, squaring rates begin to decline, justifying treatment. However, if cotton fleahopper numbers build slowly, fields can tolerate higher numbers of this pest before a reduction in cotton plant squaring rate will occur. In most cases, fields will no longer be vulnerable to cotton fleahoppers once they begin to bloom.

“Chemicals approved to control cotton fleahoppers include Bidrin, Dimethioate (Cygon), Centric, Intruder, Orthene, Steward, Thiodan, Trimax and Vydate. Consult your local OSU County Educator in specific chemicals. Always consult the label for details, restrictions and limitations.”

Telephone numbers for Pitts are Office: 1-580-482-8880; Cell 1-580-318-3121. Pitts' email address is terry.pitts@okstate.edu. Pitts' IPM reports, along with valuable information on all cotton production, can be found at ntokcotton.org.

TALKIN' COTTON is produced by NTOK Cotton, a cotton industry partnership, which supports and encourages cotton production in North Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.