Weather for Lubbock, TX

Friday, March 25, 2016

Pest Aphids in Winter Wheat

Temperatures are on the rise and so is aphid activity! There have been reports of aphids popping up all over Texas recently, so if you haven’t already, make sure to get out and scout fields for three common species:

Bird cherry-oat aphid, Rhopalosipum padi
Greenbug, Schizaphis graminum
Russian wheat aphid, Diuraphis noxia

Mark Brown (Lubbock Co Ag Agent) and I stopped in a wheat field the other day in Lorenzo, TX. Mark noticed purple, longitudinal streaks down the leaf steam and wrapped up inside was a colony of Russian wheat aphids (see photo below). Russian wheat aphids, RWA, feed in the whorl of new plant shoots and the plant curls around the aphids, protecting them from damage. The saliva of Russian wheat aphids is toxic to plants and this is what causes the discoloration.

Russian wheat aphids on winter wheat in Lorenzo, TX.

Greenbugs are similar in color to the Russian wheat aphid, but have a characteristic green stripe down their back and longer antennae and cornicles than the RWA. Damage by greenbugs appears as brown or orange leaves that appear to be ‘scorched.’ As the infestation increases and spreads out, discolored patches are visible in the wheat.

Bird cherry-oat aphids are smaller, olive green colored aphids with pink coloration on the underside. Their numbers have been on the rise down in Hill County, according to Xandra Morris (IPM Agent). Check out her blog on BCOA for scouting tips and thresholds!

The good news is that beneficials are out and have the ability to suppress RWA populations. I’ve seen green lacewing eggs on wheat as well as pink-spotted ladybeetles (Coleomegilla maculata). When inspecting your fields, take into account the predators and parasitoids that will provide natural control when making the decision to treat. Use this Cereal Aphid Decision Tool by Oklahoma State University to help with aphid management. Dr. Ed Bynum (Extension Entomologist– Amarillo) has information on economic thresholds for RWA developed by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Stripe rust found in Crosby county

I've began to notice stripe rust on winter wheat across Crosby county this week. This is one of the earlier developing wheat rusts due to the fungus preferring moist, cool conditions. We had some rains on the southern high plains, which has eased some of the stress of the 2016 growing season, but at the same time it has made the wheat more susceptible to fungal infections. Stripe rust appears as yellow-orange pustules (shown below) on the plant and will turn dark and shiny as the wheat grows.

Stripe rust on winter wheat in Crosby Co, TX. 
If you've planted a susceptible variety make sure to check your fields and consider using a fungicide. Below are useful links for how to scout your wheat, associated yield losses, and fungicides available this spring.

Scouting and yield loss for stripe rust

Fungicides for wheat rust in Spring 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Zika Virus in Texas

With spring break coming up and the weather getting increasingly warmer, I'd like to provide some helpful information on mosquitoes and the Zika virus. The following information from the Texas A&M Health Science Center is a great resource!

What you should know about Zika

Make sure to check it out and learn how to stay safe this season!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A traveler’s nightmare…

I spent last week at the Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America and was unfortunate enough to run into some welcome guests in the hotel – bed bugs. As many can relate, when I was a kid my mom would often say to me “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” But for most people, we haven’t actually encountered bed bugs as they were almost eradicated several decades ago with the use of DDT. Today, however, as we travel more both nationally and internationally, we are unknowingly bringing some extra baggage with us.

Bed bugs have seen a global resurgence in the past 15 years and don’t discriminate between hosts, housing types, or, unfortunately, hotels. As long as they can get a blood meal they are happy campers. They are notoriously hard to control once an infestation gets started, so I wanted to give everyone some tips to stay ahead of this epidemic when you leave the comforts of your home!

My arm last week after sharing a bed with some bed bugs! Several bites in a line like this are characteristic of bed bug bites. 

An adult bed bug (Photo: Bart Drees, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension)

Tips for Travelers: Scouting for Bed Bugs

How to scout your hotel room for bed bugs:
1.     Don’t put any belongings on the bed or unpack before you complete your inspection. I put my luggage on the luggage rack (usually in the closets of most rooms) or in the bathroom until I have checked for bed bugs.
2.     Things you are looking for:
·      actual bed bugs
·      shed skin of immature bugs
·      dark brown fecal spots (dried excrement)
Adult bed bugs are approximately a quarter of an inch long and red-brown with oval, flattened bodies. Immature bed bugs are smaller versions of the adults, but with a much lighter color and approximately the size of a pinhead.
3.     Begin with a preliminary check around the room. Focus on the corners of ceilings and the baseboards.
4.     Remove the corners of the fitted sheet and look underneath the mattress and box spring. Examine the mattress seams and crevices in the box spring. Pay special attention to head of the bed. Most cell phones have a flashlight that is very useful for this!
5.     You should also inspect crevices in the bed frame. This is especially important if the bed frame is wood!
6.     If there is a removable headboard, remove it from the wall and inspect the crevices on the back. This is a common place for bed bug infestations to begin. If you have never done this before, make sure you have two people to remove it safely.
7.     Other things that can be inspected include behind picture frames or couches and chairs. But limit your search to items near the bed!

What to do if your hotel room has bed bugs:
1.     Call the front desk and request a new room. Problems are usually contained in a particular area, so try to get a room in a different area.
2.     Quarantine all your belongings in garbage bags (or something similar), especially if they were on/near the bed or if you experienced bites.
3.     Put everything that is safe for laundering in a dryer at high heat for at least 45 minutes. DO NOT wash first! A washing machine does not typically get hot enough to kill all the bugs. After you have dried everything, then you can resume a normal washing routine.
4.     Keep your luggage/anything that can’t be laundered in a closed garbage bag until you can treat it. Contact your local pest control company for how to do this.

Important facts about bed bugs:
·      Bed bugs feed only on the blood of animals and spend most of their time where they can get a reliable blood meal from their host. In the case of hotel rooms, this is near the bed. Only when they are very hungry, or there is a bad infestation, will you find them in other places.
·      Bed bugs do not transmit diseases when they bite. Every person reacts differently, ranging from mild irritation and itching to large, red welts. Some reactions are delayed and occur days or even weeks after the bite.
·      Bed bug bites are usually painless so people don’t always realize they are being bitten. Any exposed skin is vulnerable, such as arms, legs, face, or neck. Bed bugs will typically make several bites at at time, often in a short line.
·      Bed bugs are mostly active at night and can go months without a blood meal. Therefore, ignoring a problem and hoping that they starve is not a reliable solution.
·      There has been a global resurgence in bed bugs over the last decade and eradicating an infestation can be time-consuming and expensive. Taking pro-active measures when you’re traveling to avoid bringing them home is always worth it!  


Welcome to the Southern High Plains IPM blog! I’m excited to get this up and running as I get settled in my new position as the IPM agent for Lubbock and Crosby counties. I just finished my Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Kentucky in 2015 studying the aphid-vectored Barley Yellow Dwarf virus (BYDV) in winter wheat. I looked at on-farm manipulations to enhance beneficials as part of an integrated pest management strategy for aphid suppression. I’m excited to bring my entomological experience to West Texas and help people with any and all pest problems!

This blog will focus on integrated pest management issues facing Lubbock and Crosby counties, as well as including updates on new technologies and research affecting the agricultural industry. Use the sidebar on the left to subscribe and get updates with each new posting. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments, or have something you would like posted on the blog. You can contact me at the Lubbock County Extension office (806-775-740) or email me at