New IPM Approach to Brown Stink Bug In Desert Cotton
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
This year, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension, Riverside County began an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to control Euschistus servus, or brown stink bug, a problem in Southern California’s cotton production areas.
Vonny Barlow, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Riverside County began evaluating brown stink bug in cotton last year, and he received additional funding this year from a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant administered through North Carolina State University, to continue his research this year. Barlow just hired two interns to work with brown stink bug in the Palo Verde Valley in Southern California.
The pest was known to exist in Arizona for about eleven years, but was not a critical issue until about three years ago, when it moved into California. California cotton growers had to spend a lot of money to spray to manage the insect, and it just wasn’t economically feasible.
“In many areas in the south, the brown stink bug pierces into the cotton boll with its proboscis-like mouthpart—a stiff, short straw,” said Barlow. “Once the cotton boll is pierced, the brown stink bug tries to feed on the cotton seed. The problem is the puncture allows bacteria to enter and boll rot to set in. Boll rot is the issue because it lowers yield quality; without boll rot, the brown stink bug is much more of a manageable pest.”
Spraying is not the answer to control the bug, according to Barlow. “We are going to look at an area-wide pest management approach by just essentially surveying the pest control advisers (PCAs) and growers about cropping that is near or even some miles away from cotton,” he said. “Where is the brown stink bug showing up? When did it show up? Is it moving? When are you going to harvest? Is it moving into the cotton? That way, we can give the cotton growers a better idea of when they should start management practices for brown stink bug, instead of just routinely calendar-spraying every two weeks.”
“We hope to predict when brown stink bug will move into cotton. Farmers who just harvested wheat should expect it will come into your field within the week. Start scouting; it is another very good IPM tactic to reduce sprays and to better manage pests,” said Barlow.
Featured image: Brown Stink Bug (Source: Brown Stink Bug (Source: “Chemical Efficacy Trial using Select Insecticides against Brown stink bug, Euschistus servus on Commercially Planted Cotton” by Vonny Barlow, University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Riverside County, April 2016 issue of “Postings from the Palo Verde” newsletter)