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Sweet Corn Pheromone Trap Network for Western New York, 2005
This is a seasonal scouting report giving growers in the Western New York area information on the presence of sweet corn pests and recommendations on scouting and thresholds. The report is written by Abby Seaman, NYS IPM's Area Extension Educator for Vegetables.
ECB-E catches are down at most locations this week, but ECB-Z race moths are still flying at most trapping sites. ECB egg-laying continues, and newly hatched larvae are being found in emerging tassels in the earliest plantings.
Fields started under plastic or row cover will be very attractive to egg-laying moths because the plants are larger than those in bare ground fields. We have found that using the usual tassel emergence scouting and thresholds do not work in corn started under plastic or row cover. John Mishanec has had good results in trials in which pheromone trap catches were used to time sprays in row cover or plastic corn. Growers waited until there was a significant increase in the ECB trap catches in their area and then timed sprays to coincide with egg hatch. ECB eggs require 100 degree days (base 50) from oviposition to hatch.
For bare ground plantings, fields should be first scouted for ECB and FAW larvae at early tassel emergence. Even at a location with high ECB populations, insecticide applications in bare ground fields to whorl stage corn did not result in improved control when compared with one or two well-timed applications at tassel emergence. Larvae feeding in the whorl are protected from insecticide applications and mortality will not be as high as at tassel emergence, when larvae feeding in the emerging tassel are exposed to the spray. Larvae will leave the tassel as it opens up and no longer provides a moist, protected feeding environment, and move down the plant looking for protected places to feed. Insecticide applications need to be timed to kill larvae before they bore into a new feeding location where they will be again protected from sprays. In fields with very uneven development, two applications may be necessary, one when approximately 25-50% if the tassels have emerged, and again after 75-100% of the tassels have emerged, if the field is still over threshold.
The threshold for ECB and armyworms at tassel emergence is 15% infested plants. For corn borers, look down into emerging tassels for tiny larvae or frass (white to brown material about the size of fine sand). For armyworms look for ragged feeding holes and frass pellets the texture of coarse sawdust. Before any insecticides have been applied, scouting is fast and easy because any sign of feeding is an almost sure sign of live larvae, so it's not necessary to spend time finding the larvae. After the initial insecticide application, feeding damage may be from a larva that has already been killed, so finding the critter is more important for an accurate estimate of the number of infested plants.
Once a field is silking, the threshold drops to 5% infested plants. Scout the ear zone (roughly from two leaves above and one leaf below the ears) for ECB egg masses and ECB or FAW larvae. Egg masses are found most frequently on the underside of leaves near the midrib, and consist of approximately 10-20 flattened eggs overlapping like fish scales. Eggs are white when first laid, turning cream colored after a couple of days, and show the black head capsules of the tiny larvae through the surface of the eggs when within 1 day of hatching (the "black head" stage). Egg masses can also sometimes be found on the flag leaves of the ears or on the husk itself. Eggs take approximately 100 base 50 degree days to hatch. When temperatures are in the 70's during the day and the 50's at night egg masses will take about a week to hatch. When temperatures are in the 80's during the day and the 60's at night, they could hatch in only 4 days. Look down into the tops of the silks for newly hatched larvae, and pull the ear away from the stalk slightly to look for larvae feeding between the stalk and the ear.