Friday, May 21, 2010

Some Insect-Issue Thoughts and Predictions

Whitney Cranshaw, CSU Entomologist/Extension Specialist is providing his thoughts on insect issues that we may or may not see this summer: 

"This part of the state has had quite a spell of unusual weather.  Last fall we had a severe cold snap on October 13 and a very cool winter, often with some snow cover.  It has been above average with moisture, continuing the trend of last summer, and this spring has been very cool, with everything delayed.  Based on those conditions and some other things, I am going to guess on a couple of insect related events."

YellowjacketsDown.  The cold, wet spring is going to have the colonies get off to a slow start.  Furthermore last year wasn't great for them and the winter may have knocked out some queens.

Honey BeesVery rough start.  Late summer/early fall conditions were poor for setting up winter stores that allow colonies to survive winter.  Then this spring was late with bloom.  We now have abundant blooming, but weather is usually too cool for foraging.  Altogether this has to be very stressful for colonies and I suspect many starved out.

European mantids (aka 'praying mantid').  Down.  At least around here this is a marginally adapted insect.  It tends to be abundant in seasons when the previous winter was mild.  Last winter was not and I suspect that many of the eggs were killed.

Tobacco budwormDown.  Another marginally adapted insect that will freeze out if the overwintering pupae freeze.  Last winter there was a lot of deep soil freezing, which should have dinged the populations.

Squash bugs, Striped cucumber beetlesDown.  At least around here these also are marginally adapted insects.  They tend to be abundant in seasons when the previous winter was mild.  Last winter was not and I suspect that the overwintering adult stages of both of these had above average mortality.

Mites on lawnsWay down.  Good winter moisture in many places made clover mites a minor issue this year.

Miller mothsDown.  Low numbers were present last year and few eggs likely were laid in fall.  There have been no reports of cutworms active in crops yet, further suggesting that the insect numbers are low.  Plus, with all the moisture there will be abundant flowering of native plants which will provide an abundance of nectar sources for the moths; they will not aggregate around landscape plantings as occurs in drought years.  Flights will be later than normal, below normal in total number of  moths, and will be dispersed so people will not notice them as serious nuisance pests.

Aphids on trees and shrubsUp.  Cool, wet springs usually signal prolonged, heavier activity of many aphids at least until the end of June when natural enemies (e.g. lady beetles) come roaring back.

SlugsUp.  Last season was a building year.  They should be in great shape heading into the 2010 season.

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