Three years ago, my field season was so affected by yellowjackets (FIG. 1) that I decided to find out what I could learn about them. Their abundance, activity, what influences populations, etc. It was actually harder than I thought to find information! This was noted by a 2018 paper , where the team investigated 908 published papers over almost 40 years and yep – less than 3% of them were wasp-related (FIG. 2).

Despite the importance of both taxa, bees are universally loved whilst wasps are universally despised.”

Seirian Sumner et al., 2018
FIGURE 1 – Wasps are predatory, and can interfere with VegNet data collection because they enter traps and consume the moth bodies! Tough to get an accurate count of corn earworm when all that’s left are the wings!
FIGURE 2 – Unequal research effort of these related Hymenoptera, as noted in a 2018 paper (link provided above).

Now, the same author has released a new paper highlighting the benefits of wasps. They provide ecological services like predation of pest insects and pollination (FIG. 3). Wasp venom is even being investigated as a potential cancer treatment. Read the news story here: https://www.wired.com/story/whats-the-point-of-wasps-anyway/ and remember that next time you reach for the swatter or spray can, you might be disrupting a beneficial insect!

FIGURE 3 – Ecosystem services provided by stinging wasps. From: Biological Reviews, First published: 29 April 2021, DOI: (10.1111/brv.12719)

While none of us have a crystal ball, especially in agriculture, I thought it might be fun to offer some thoughts / warnings of how this year might look for insect pests of vegetables. I predict* ……

  • “Flea beetles will be rampant.” In the spring, adult flea beetles emerge from overwintering, and are already causing some problems in radish. We’ve been told by both local and regional sources that it’s going to be a hot and dry summer = flea beetles’ favorite weather. I suggest early and often scouting in brassica crops. Starting now, begin to scout weedy areas around fields. Once the crop emerges, or shortly after transplanting, focus efforts on field edges. It may be necessary to scout daily – yes, daily. Be aware that these insects are easily disturbed (they jump), sticky traps placed ~10″ off the ground can help assess activity – place them near edges. You’ll recognize the distinctive ‘pitting’ on cotyledons and true leaves. Check stems for signs of damage as well, just above the soil surface. For more information, see the flea beetle pest profile page.

  • “Wireworms are a cryptic foe we should get to know.” They are a common problem in grass and potato production. Adult click beetles do not live for very long and do not cause damage. Larvae (wireworms), on the other hand, live for 2-6 years and damage can be extensive. Before planting, especially if you are coming out of a grass rotation, take my advice and place a few bait traps to assess larval activity. Instructions and more information is available at the wireworm pest profile page.

  • “Every other year, cabbage loopers cause fear.” Ok, I admit, this one is just a stretch to fit the rhyme scheme. However, it is true that in the Willamette Valley, we have had major looper outbreaks in 2017 and 2019… so 2021 is a possibility. Trap count data will be available soon.

* PLEASE NOTE: these are merely educated guesses. In fact, part of the fun of monitoring insects is that they are truly so unpredictable!

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I mentioned in last week’s newsletter that the Oregon Dept of Agriculture (ODA), Washington State Dept of Agriculture (WSDA), and Washington State University (WSU) are all active in their efforts to prevent and detect Japanese beetles in the region. Remember:

  • This Thursday, April 1st, at 9am, WSU/WSDA is offering a webinar. Click here to register and learn more.

Also be sure to check out the OSU Extension publication that includes information on identification, life cycle and scouting, damage, control measures, and how to report a suspected Japanese beetle. EM 9158    Published April 2017 4 pages https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em9158

Please help us get valuable information about chlorpyrifos 

  • Restrictions on the use of chlorpyrifos and the complete revocation of its registration are underway.
  • An ODA specialty crop block-funded project involves a cross-commodity collaboration to identify viable options as alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
  • The research will be conducted at several locations in Oregon to determine the efficacy of currently registered chemistries and newer products in onion, corn, cherries, grass seed, and clover seed.

Your responses to this survey help us identify critical issues that can improve the development of our research. Please participate in this 10-minute survey and enter for a chance to win one of ten $25 gift cards. 

If you have questions or comments about the project, please contact Silvia Rondon, Project Leader, OSU Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 541-567-8321, silvia.rondon(AT)oregonstate(DOT)edu. Sent on behalf of Silvia Rondon, Dani Lightle, Navneet Kaur, Chris Adams, and Stuart Reitz.

Please use the link below to participate.

Thanks in advance for your time and feedback!

https://beav.es/JaP

After this morning’s invited speaker talk (OPVC Annual Grower Meeting), I thought it might be helpful to assemble some existing resources we have about Delia spp. in the PNW. Browsing these links could help you better prepare for the planting season. Also feel free to leave a comment with any specific concerns or impact you’ve experienced. Thanks to Dr. Nault for a great presentation this morning!

  • ** VegNet alert – late June 2020 – Seedcorn maggot issues reported/confirmed in snap bean and parsnip
  • ** Pest profile page – Seedcorn maggot species complex, literature
  • ** Pest profile page – Cabbage maggot overview, ID, management
  • Temporal trends – late July 2018 – Temporal trends and species complex info
  • Scouting report – mid Oct 2020 – Maggot complex found in stored onion
  • Research report (pdf) – 2016 maggot trial in direct-seeded radish, chlorpyrifos alternatives
  • VegNet alert – May 2018 – Poor emergence, general info seedcorn maggot
  • U. of Mass. factsheet – Seedcorn maggot
  • Dr. Brian Nault, lab site – Cornell Entomology (pdf) – Delayed planting to help manage onion maggot

Root maggots are creamy white to yellow, opaque, and legless. They are tapered; blunt posterior end. Determining species is difficult and requires examination with a microscope.

Root Maggots of the PNW – Overview

Delia species (Diptera: Anthomyiidae). Small (5-8mm) flies – black, brown or grey – the immature phase are called maggots – they feed on root and sometimes stem tissue – identification technical and difficult* – often referred to as a rootfly ‘complex’. Adults do not cause damage. Eggs are laid at the base of plants. Maggots tunnel into tissue which causes direct damage and also increases the risk of infection by plant pathogens..
D. radicum: Cabbage maggot
Our most familiar regional issue. Adults prefer cool weather and maturing (4-7 leaf) brassica plants to lay eggs. Flight period well-documented and can be useful for predicting timing of egg-laying pressure.
HOSTS: weedy mustards, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
.
D. platura: Seedcorn maggot
Attracted to organic matter and decay. Sometimes worse in fields that have been cover cropped to increase N. Often a secondary pest (invades after initial decay of tissue due to other factors). Active earlier than other species.
HOSTS: many, but especially large seeded vegetables like corn, peas, dry beans, snap beans
.
D. florilega: Bean seed maggot
Nearly indistinguishable from D. platura, often occur together.
HOSTS: association is broad, but mostly a problem in turnips, radish, canola
.
D. planipalpis: Western radish maggot
Similar in appearance to D. radicum, but different leg hair arrangement.
HOSTS: radish and canola (verified in literature); also probably other crucifers
D. antigua: Onion maggot
A major problem in onion production. Many good resources available.
HOSTS: onions, garlic, chives, etc.
.
D. floralis: Turnip maggot
Similar in appearance to other species; different leg hair arrangement.
HOSTS: turnip and radish
* Link to ID guide (Savage et al. 2016) but beware, it involves counting and measuring hairs on adult fly thoraces and legs – good times!

When people talk about beetle pests in corn, they’re usually referring to damage that occurs below the soil level. For many species, including western corn rootworm, wireworms, and white grubs, the common name refers to the immature stage that attacks corn roots underground.

So, when i saw this beetle-looking-larvae feeding ON developing kernels this week, I was intrigued and confused. And “well, maybe I was a little bit… ‘concerned'” [obscure movie quote, congrats if you know it ;)]

Look in maturing ears with loosened husks or bird damage. They’re pretty good at camouflage, eh? For a closer view, watch this video.

Coleoptera: Nitidulidae are small, oval to elongate beetles with clubbed antennae and shortened elytra (wing covers). Feeding habits vary, but adults tend to feed on fresh or decaying organic matter. Because of this, they are often called fungus or pollen beetles (e.g. Meligethes aeneus in brassica, canola, and clover production). Aethina tumida, the small hive beetle, is another example.

The specimen I found near Scio is probably Carpophilus lugubris, a N. American native and known pest of sweet corn.

  • Can be a problem in both processed and market corn, because larvae feed within the ear and damage is not always visible until after husking.
  • Beetles are most attracted to ears damaged by rodents, birds, deer, etc. or when harvest operations leave lower ears – can become a reservoir.
  • May have correlation with volatiles expressed by the plant after attack by corn earworm
  • Common in stored grains and nuts; feces can contaminate dried fruits
  • Larvae develop for ~ 3 weeks then pupate in the soil, adults can live up to 300 days, 1 generation/year
  • NOTE: Dusky sap beetles can also cause damage in TOMATOES, STRAWBERRIES, and other soft fruits – just don’t have time to elaborate on that today!
  • UPDATE: sap beetle found in large numbers contributing to onion rot – OCT 2020. Access the scouting report.

Growers and field reps throughout the region have been noticing issues with seed maggots. Similar to root maggots, these are the immature form of a certain type of fly (Diptera: Anthomyiidae: Delia spp.).

There are three species, in particular, that can be devastating in vegetable crops. The first, cabbage maggot (D. radicum) is well-known and tends to infest brassicas only. Use this link for more info on cabbage maggot.

“Seedcorn maggot” is the common name for what is actually a complex of two species – D. platura and D. florilega. “Bean seed fly” is another commonly used name for adults. These two species are remarkably similar, both as larvae and adults. For adult flies, color is variable and one must examine leg hair length and placement. Maggots are indistinguishable, even by experts.


Complaints so far have come from parsnip and snap bean fields, but dry beans, corn, peas, and squash growers should take note. If emergence is low, scout 2-ft row sections. Look for damage to seeds and white, tapered maggots. Maggots are legless and have a blunt posterior.

Learn More About Seedcorn Maggot:

  • PNW Handbook Sections
  • Related VegNet blog post (May 18th, 2018)
  • PHOTOS ABOVE ADAPTED FROM: Savage, J., Fortier, A-M., Fournier, F., Bellavance, V. 2016. Identification of Delia pest species (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) in cultivated crucifers and other vegetable crops in Canada. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification No. 29: June 29, 2016. doi:10.3752/cjai.2016.29
  • Brooks, A. R. 1951. Identification of the Root Maggots (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) Attacking Cruciferous Garden Crops in Canada, with Notes on Biology and Control. Can. Entomol. 83(5): 109-120.
  • Higley, L. G. and L. P. Pedigo. 1984. Seedcorn Maggot (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) Population Biology and Aestivation in Central Iowa. Environmental Entomology. 13(5):1436-1442.

Larvae of various Tortricid moths (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) are well-known pests to fruit and nut growers, but less considered in vegetables. Here is a quick list of some economically important species in this group:

  • Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)
  • Fruittree Leafroller (Archips argyrospila)
  • Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella)
  • Filbertworm Moth (Cydia latiferreana)
  • Strawberry Fruit Worm aka Omnivorous Leaftier (Cnephasia longana)

These small, bland colored moths are nearly undetectable in the landscape, but their larvae can cause billions of dollars of economic damage. Leaves are rolled or tied to provide shelter for developing larvae. Crop damage from this group can occur ‘from root to fruit’.

Continue reading

Another attention-grabber headline this month is the hatch of periodical cicadas in the eastern US. “Brood IX” is a 17-year assemblage that was expected, but there are “stragglers” from other groups of 13-year cicadas that are actually 4 years early. This year is unusual because the groups consist of many different species (all in genus Magicicada) and appear to be overlapping geographically. Confused yet? Me too, so I refer you to http://magicicada.org/magicicada/ if you’re interested.

Sounds are produced by specialized structures called tymbals, and can exceed 100 decibels! If you’ve never been lucky(?) enough to hear one, enjoy this video clip:

  • Cicadas are not ‘locusts’ ( which are a behavioral adaptation of grasshoppers). They’re more closely related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs.
  • Common cicadas have life cycles between 3 and 5 years. Nymphs (immatures) live underground and feed on tree roots.
  • If you see a green cicada, it is not a periodical species.
  • Emergence in the PNW may be related to rainfall: Chatfield-Taylor, W. and Cole, J.A. 2017. Living rain gauges: cumulative precipitation explains the emergence schedules of California protoperiodical cicadas. Ecology 98: 2521-2527.

We do, in fact, have cicadas in Oregon, but they do not occur at nuisance levels. There are ~ 30 species in our region; one of the most encountered is Okanagana oregona (pictured at right).

QUICK FACTS

  • 1 1/4″ to 2″ long with a striped abdomen, orange head, and black eyes
  • Predator of many large-bodied insects (grasshoppers, beetles, etc.)
  • Potential serious threat to honeybees
  • Ground-nesting, active from May to August
  • Detected in August 2019 British Columbia (eradicated); 0 confirmed sightings to date in Oregon. 4 confirmed sightings (dead) in Washington state + 1 active nestread news articles from October 2020;
*** NEW ! *** An Extension publication is now available highlighting identification, effect on honey bees, invasion potential, and more. CLICK THE PHOTO to access the publication.
Photo credit: Chris Hedstrom, Oregon IPM Center

OTHER REGIONAL RESOURCES

Although AGH may have just hit headlines, there are a number of regional experts who can offer advice, answer questions, and field suspected reports of sightings. Please reach out if you are concerned. Early detection is key to limit the effects of invasive species.

“It is certainly something to be … watchful for … [but]… I don’t think there’s a need for panic at all” ~ Eric Lee-Mader

Lee-Mader is a pollination conservation expert with the Xerces Society and has worked with AGH in Japan. Quotes extracted from his 4 MAY 2020 interview with KGW8 News, available here.