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Rising chinch bug threat in wet spring

Rising chinch bug threat in wet spring

By Scout Nelson

Western South Dakota is experiencing a notable surge in false chinch bug populations this spring, similar to the boom observed in 2019.

Patrick Wagner, an SDSU Extension Entomology Field Specialist, along with colleagues Adam Varenhorst, Amanda Bachmann, and Philip Rozeboom, reports that these pests, normally just a nuisance, become problematic in cool, wet conditions.

False chinch bugs, small grayish-brown insects about 1/8 of an inch long, emerge from overwintering and move to crops as alternative feeding sites dry up.

These bugs primarily threaten Brassica plants such as canola, carinata, and various garden vegetables including broccoli and cabbage. After laying eggs near these plants, the emerging nymphs feed aggressively, potentially leading to significant crop damage.

During the day, these pests tend to hide, becoming most active during cooler morning and evening hours. They feed by sucking sap from the plants, causing the leaves to wilt, brown, and curl at the edges—a process that can swiftly devastate crops.

Effective management of false chinch bugs typically involves monitoring their numbers and applying treatments only when necessary. For canola, damage is most significant during the flowering and early pod fill stages.

Recommended thresholds are between 5 and 10 bugs per flowering raceme and 10 to 20 during early pod set. Beyond these thresholds, farmers may need to apply foliar insecticides.

Gardeners can reduce damage with regular watering and the use of pyrethrin or pyrethroid insecticides, though it's crucial to observe pre-harvest intervals. For preventive measures, floating row covers installed at planting can serve as a physical barrier, protecting plants from these pests.

With the ongoing pattern of large-scale infestations likely to continue, both commercial and home gardeners in South Dakota need to stay observant and prepared to protect their crops from the false chinch bug onslaught.

Photo Credit -south-dakota-state-university

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Categories: South Dakota, Crops

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