Will Insect Pest Pressure Be “Normal” This Year?

May 10, 2013 12:00 AM
Will Insect Pest Pressure Be “Normal” This Year?

Christian Krupke and John Obermeyer, Purdue University

  • Anticipated pest outbreaks only occasionally materialize.
  • Starting insect populations are relatively low.
  • There will be surprises in 2013!

Admittedly, this article’s title isn’t as catchy as last year’s fret about bugs becoming worse because of the early start, as we reached May heat units in March! You remember…the season was 2-3 weeks earlier followed by a mild winter, so it was assumed that by summer’s end we would be knee deep in insect poop from our devoured crops. In hindsight, we know that the drought, coupled with heat, reduced most insect populations, with spider mites (not an insect) being the exception. So where is the media coverage this year? Don’t they want to hear about our predictions for a "normal," or even reduced, insect year? No. They don’t.

Insects can build numbers rapidly after some heavy setbacks. Last year was unkind to many insects. We mentioned in an earlier post that overall the insect world took a "hit" with last year’s drought and heat so they went into winter with fewer numbers. This includes pest, beneficial, and the other insect species. The numbers of our annual-arriving transients into the state, e.g., black cutworm, monitored with pheromone traps haven’t been overly impressive to date.

To steal a cop-out statement from an article last year, "what is predictable about insects is that they can’t be predicted." So following last year’s drought, a fairly cold winter, and now a wet/cool spring, what would be your projections for this year’s insect population? The story will become clearer once we have some crops in the ground. Happy Scouting!

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