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Friday, December 16, 2016

Multicolored Asian Ladybeetle: Rumors and Truths

Ladybeetles are considered beneficials for the pest control they provide in home gardens and a variety of crops. However, this week a story is making the rounds on the internet about a dog possibly being poisoned by ladybeetles. Xandra Morris, (Extension Agent-IPM, Hill and McLennan County) dog owner AND entomologist, clears up this rumor in the post below. Thanks, Xandra!

From Hill County Ag and IPM:

Winter is here, and the multicolored Asian ladybeetles are making their presence known. They are an invasive insect in the US and several other countries, and are out-competing our native ladybug species, but they still provide excellent biological control and are considered in most agricultural and garden settings to be beneficial.

Photo by Pat Porter

Photo by Pat Porter

Identification Look for the 'M' shape on the carapace (back of the head). These beetles are aptly named; they can be any variety of colors from white to orange to deep red, and can have many different numbers of spots.
Rumors This picture is floating around the internet causing (understandable) alarm for pet owners. The dog pictured has multicolored Asian ladybeetles on the roof of it's mouth. Most likely the dog ate something with the beetles already on it, or slept with its mouth open and they found a nice warm place to overwinter. 

Multicolored Asian ladybeetles inside a dog's mouth. This is NOT dangerous!

Rest assured that this DOES NOT HARM the dog in any way, other than give it bad breath! The beetles are not burrowing or biting, and they can be simply scraped off with a finger. They are not poisonous if accidentally ingested. This is very likely a rare happenstance, it is not beetle behavior to seek out animal mouths to rest in.

The Truth: Is it a Pest? These ladybugs can bite, but the bite is not harmful and won't break the skin. More importantly, they can emit a foul-smelling yellow liquid that can stain fabrics. It is this chemical defense that elevates them to 'pest' status in homes, as well as vineyards, where their presence (due to their overwintering in grape clusters) has been found to alter the taste of wines. You can read more about this phenomenon here.

In their native habitat these ladybugs spend the winter huddled together on cliff faces. Here in America, where they were introduced in 1916 to control aphid pests, we don't have cliffs, we have houses. Cue the invasion! Fortunately, they do not cause any damage to carpets, wood, or other household items except for the occasional stain. 

What to Do If you've got ladybeetles where they don't belong, simply vacuum or sweep them up and toss outside or in the outdoor trash. Don't bother with chemical sprays or sticky traps, they aren't effective (traps) or necessary (pesticides) in this situation. Also, don't crush them or otherwise handle them, or you'll find out just how foul that liquid defense is. 

To prevent them from bothering you in the future, seal up cracks and crevices in your homes with caulk or weather stripping.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Local Transmission of Zika Likely in Texas

Just as the Zika outbreak in Florida has been declared effectively over, it is being reported that 4 new cases of Zika in Texas have been likely caused by local transmission. These cases are in South Texas in Cameron County where the first locally transmitted case was identified last month.

While there are currently no travel advisories, it never hurts to take precautions. Agrilife has some great information on mosquito control and what Texas need to know about Zika!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sugarcane Aphid Damage Ratings and Nutritional Data

Dr. Pat Porter wrote a brief summary this morning on some of the work we did this summer on the nutritional value of sorghum damaged by sugarcane aphid. I've posted what he wrote below. You can find it at Texas Sugarcane Aphid News.

One of the questions as we end the season is what kind of effect does sugarcane aphid damage have on the nutritional quality of sorghum stalk that are used for stove. We conducted two experiments this season, and both were designed to look at leaf damage and its effect on grain yield. However, in conducted these experiments we ended up wth many plots with discreet levels of leaf damage, and The United Sorghum Checkoff Program asked us to harvest stalk from the various plots and send them for nutritional analysis.

To be clear, the results that appear below are for grain sorghum, not forage sorghum. One experiment was conducted at the Lubbock Research and Extension Center using a sugarcane aphid-susceptible hybrid grown under moderate furrow irrigation, and the other was conducted at the Helms Farm near the Halfway Experiment Station. This experiment was conducted on a sugarcane aphid resistant hybrid grown under drip irrigation that supplied relatively more water than was available at Lubbock. Data from the two trials showed very similar trends, so they were combined to generate the following charts.

The Leaf Damage Rating System developed by Blayne reed goes from 0 to 10, with 1 being very little damage on the lower leaves, to 10 being all the leaves on the plant with observable damage. Sugarcane aphid damages the lower leaves first and then moves up the plant, so a leaf damage rating of 5 would suggest the leaves in the lower 50% of the canopy are damaged.

Each dot on a graph represents at least 4 stalks harvested from a plot at a given leaf damage rating. The nutritional analyses were performed at Servi-Tech Labs in Amarillo. A sample report from Servi-Tech is here.

Figure 1. There was a highly significant decrease in Total Digestible Nutrients with increasing levels of leaf damage.

Figure 2. Crude Protein was not significantly different between plots with different levels of leaf damage. 

Figure 3. There was a highly significant increase in Acid Detergent Fiber (non-digestible components) with increasing levels of leaf damage.

Figure 4. There was a highly significant decrease in Digestible Energy with increasing levels of leaf damage.

Figure 5. There was a highly significant decrease in Metabolic Energy, Beef with increasing levels of leaf damage.

Figure 6. There was a highly significant decrease in Net Energy, Lactating with increasing levels of leaf damage.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2 More Days to Vote on the Grain Indemnity Fund!

Today and tomorrow are the last days to vote on the Grain Indemnity Fund at your local Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office!

Call the Lubbock Co Extension office at 806-775-1740 if you have any questions.

**I am currently evaluating the performance of this blog and would appreciate it if you could fill out this short survey. Thanks!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Grain Indemnity Fund Referendum - Vote THIS WEEK

There is a referendum by the Texas Grain Producers Indemnity Board (TGPIB) for eligible Texas producers of corn, sorghum, soybeans, and/or wheat, including grain sold for seed, to decide if a refundable assessment should be collected. Any producer that has sold grain since 2013 is eligible to vote.

How does it work? From the TDA website: 
If the referendum is approved, collection of the assessment at the set rate will begin on February 1, 2017, and continue until such time as the TGPIB notifies grain buyers to cease collection. Each grain buyer or grain elevator, including a purchaser, warehouseman, processor or commercial handler who buys grain from or stores unsold grain for a producer, shall collect the assessment by deducting the applicable percentage from the final sales price of the grain or from any funds advanced for that purpose. Producers who suffer losses as a result of the financial failure of a grain buyer can make a claim to the fund.

How do you vote? 
Voting takes place December 5-9 at Texas A&M Agrilife Extension county offices. Find your nearest Agrilife Extension office here!

 More information is available from the TGPIB website.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Comment Period for Proposed Approval of Enlist Duo

The EPA has opened a 30-day comment period this week on the proposed approval of the Enlist Duo herbicide for use with Enlist cotton. Also included in the proposal is the use of Enlist Duo with Enlist corn and soybeans.

The comment period opened November 1 and will close on December 1.

For more information concerning the registration of Enlist Duo, check out this list of frequently asked questions.

To provide a comment, follow this link. 

High Plains Ag Conference - Dec 9

Come check out the High Plains Ag Conference on December 9 8:30-3:00pm at the Texas A&M Agrilife Research Centerin Lubbock! 5 CEUs available.

Topics covered include new cotton varieties, brush and weed management, laws and regulations, drift prevention, and disease management. Read the full agenda here.

Cost is $35 (lunch included) if pre-registered by December 7. Find the registration form here.

For more information, contact Robert Scott (CEA-Ag/NR, Lubbock Co.) at 806-775-1740 or . 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Come View Dryland Harvest Aid/Variety Trial TOMORROW Thursday at 10 am

The Lubbock County Extension Staff, with the help of Dr. Seth Byrd, established a dryland "cotton harvest aid products" trial on October 12 on the Cole Hamilton Farm. This is in the same field as our Dryland RACE Cotton Variety Trial, located at the NW corner of FM 1729 and CR 1900 (5 mi W of New Deal). The variety trial has been defoliated and is nearing harvest.

Come out and join us for 30-45 minutes on Thursday October 20 at 10am to walk through the plots and view these two trials before the cotton is off the stalk. Hope to see you on October 20!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fall Armyworms in High Plains Wheat

This afternoon on the radio I reported that we were seeing fall armyworm activity in freshly emerged wheat. Dr. Ed Bynum, extension entomologist with Texas A&M Agrilife in Amarillo, wrote an article today on fall armyworms in the area, including what other crops it may feed on and possible treatment options. You can find the article here at Texas Panhandle Pest News. Thanks, Ed!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

USDA to Provide Cost Share Assistance to Organic Agricultural Producers

Eligibility: Texas-based organic producers (crops, wild crops, and/or livestock) and/or handlers are eligible to participate in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP). Operations must possess current USDA organic certification to be eligible to receive reimbursements. This means operations either must have successfully received their initial USDA organic certification from a USDA-accredited certifying agent, or must have incurred expenses related to the renewal of their USDA organic certification from a USDA-accredited certifying agent between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016. Operations with suspended or revoked certifications are ineligible for reimbursement. The application NOP regulations and resources for certification are available on the NOP website.

The cost share program will be conducted on a first come, first served basis. 

Deadline: Applications must be received by close of business (5:00 pm CT) Monday, October 31, 2016.

How to Apply: Visit the Organic Cost Share website to download submission instructions and application materials. TDA will offer two ways to submit your application. You are encouraged to try the new online submission application. All you have to do is fill out the required information, attach your documentation and hit submit. Alternatively, applications may also complete a hard copy form and email to the address listed in the submission instructions. 

Questions: Please contact the grants office at 512-463-6695 or with any questions you have.

Friday, September 23, 2016

2016 High Plains Cotton Harvest-Aid Guide

High Plains Cotton Harvest-Aid Guide

Above is the 2016 Cotton Harvest-Aid Guide from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, updated by Drs. Seth Byrd, Wayne Keeling, and Gaylon Morgan.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cotton Harvest Aid Videos

Dr. Pat Porter (Extension Entomologist) and Kerry Siders (EA-IPM, Hockley, Cochran, and Lamb counties) made two cotton videos that are perfectly timed.

The first is all about cotton harvest aids.

The second is all about determining if your cotton is ready for harvest aids.

Thanks Pat and Kerry! 

Southern High Plains IPM Newsletter, Sept 16

Click here to read last week's newsletter from September 16.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Green cloverworms in alfalfa and soybeans

There are not a lot of soybeans grown on the southern High Plains, but we've seen high numbers of green clover worms causing serious damage this week. Soybeans in Crosby County were sprayed the other day, and Blayne Reed (CEA-IPM, Floyd, Swisher, Hale counties) reports similar high numbers in Floyd county as well.

The following was written by Dr. Pat Porter, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Entomologist, and posted on the FOCUS on Entomology blog.

If you are growing soybeans or alfalfa on the Texas High Plains, it would be a good idea to scout for green cloverworms. I was in a soybean field near Ralls earlier in the week that had approximately 8 larvae per plant, and I just got a call about soybeans near Clarendon that were heavily infested.

In both cases the people making the reports thought the worms were soybean loopers. It is easy to tell the two caterpillars apart because loopers have two pairs of prolegs on the abdomen while the green cloverworm has three pairs. Loopers are fairly lethargic, but green cloverworms hop around quickly when disturbed.

Green cloverworm larvae near Ralls

Typical defoliation in soybean caused by green cloverworm

Fortunately the green cloverworm is only a leaf feeder in soybean and it does not damage pods. For alfalfa here is a quote from the Oklahoma guide, "These defoliators are rarely a significant problem in established alfalfa, although seedling stands can be heavily damaged by their feeding." However, if there are enough of them present they can cause defoliation, which in turn will reduce the amount of nutrients the plants can store for overwintering.

For soybeans, University of Tennessee has a good list of insecticides in their publication here. Oklahoma State University has control suggestions for alfalfa here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Interested in Becoming a Master Beekeeper??

Time To Register For The Next Texas Master Beekeeping Class

“The 2016 fall exam registration form is now available for the fourth round of apprentice testing and second round of advanced level testing,” says Texas Master Bee Keeping Board member Mary Reed.  Late in 2014 a group of bee keepers including AgriLife Extension and Research professionals plus apiary inspectors began the process of creating a Texas Master Beekeepers Certification program, similar to Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists. The first offering of the testing was held in March 2015 with 68 students earning the apprentice title. The five year certification is built on training, experience and testing, scoring a 70 percent or higher on both a written and practical examinations. The current registration form is available on the Texas Master Beekeeper Program (TMBP) website under the “Exam Registration” tab. 

If you have been a bee keeper for at least one year and are interested in participating in this exam, you must submit the online registration form by October 27.  The Apprentice level class is limited  to 45 participants, but there is no set limit for the Advanced level slots.  The exam will be held at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, TX on November 3.  The cost for the exam is $50 and must be paid prior to the exam with a check or money order submitted to:
AgriLife Research Department of Entomology
Texas Apiary Inspection Service
2475 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-2475

If this is your first year, you will be participating at the Apprentice Level. Check in will begin at 8 am, and the exam will start promptly at 8:30 am.  Part of the exam involves working with a real hive, so come prepared!  Please bring your own suit, hive tool, smoker, lighter, and any other beekeeping equipment you normally use when manipulating a hive.  We will provide pine needles as smoker fuel, but if you are more comfortable using a different material, go ahead and bring that along as well.  All sections of the exam will be completed by noon.

If this is your second year, you will be participating at the Advanced Level. Check in will begin at 1 pm, with the exam starting at 1:30 pm.  There is no in-hive portion for this level, so there’s no need to bring any of your beekeeping equipment.  Please bring your Public Service Credits and completed quizzes for the Learning Modules to the exam!  You will need to submit at least five PSCs and all quiz completions to acquire the Advanced level rank.  These documents will not be accepted unless organized in accordance with the Public Service Credit Documentation powerpoint available on the TMBP website.

In the past we have held the review sessions in the morning of the exam day.  However, to give participants extra time to review the topics of interest narrated powerpoint presentations will be posted to the TMBP website after October 1. 

Thanks to Fred Hall (CEA, Ag and Natural Resources, Tarrant County) for this information.

For more information contact Mary Reed at 979.845.9713 or by email at

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Be on the Lookout for Bollworms in Cotton

We’ve made it through this growing season with little to no insect activity, so it makes sense that we would run into some issues in late August. Brad Easterling (EA-IPM, Glassock, Reagan, and Upton counties) is reporting above threshold levels of bollworms in Bt cotton fields near Garden City. While we don’t yet know the cause of this, entomologists and IPM agents around the state are working to determine the nature of the problem we are dealing with.

Locally, trap catches in Crosby county (Fig. 1) for adult bollworm moths indicated a large flight around the second week of August, but numbers have been decreasing since. This is not to say that we should be complacent in our scouting of cotton; sorghum and cotton (especially lush cotton, Bt or not) should be scouted regularly.

Figure 1. Trap catches of adult fall army worms (black bars) and bollworms (blue bars) in Crosbyton, TX. 

Dr. Suhas Vyavhare, Cotton Entomologist with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, says that when scouting for bollworm larvae you should do whole plant inspections, including squares, white and pink blooms, bloom tags, and bolls. At least 100 randomly selected plants covering major areas in the field should be inspected. When plants are 3 nodes above white flower (NAWF) or less, they are typically safe from bollworm injury.

Check out this video on how to scout for bollworms in cotton from Blayne Reed (EA-IPM, Hale, Swisher, and Floyd counties).

If you do see any unexpected feeding damage or have any questions about bollworms, feel free to give me a call!