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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureJan. 10, 2018
(563 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK – As temperatures across Arkansas muddled about at or below freezing much
of the last two weeks, one could almost hear entomologists throughout the region raising
a glass to the seasonal demise of the red banded stink bug.
While Arkansas growers must deal with a litany of pests, both native and invasive,
nearly every growing season, the red banded stink bug made a notable impression during
the 2017 growing season, especially for soybean producers.
Gus Lorenz, extension entomologist with the University of Arkansas System Division
of Agriculture, said the insect, which is native to subtropical climates of Central
America, typically migrates north through Texas and Louisiana with the rising temperatures
of spring and summer. But while they are typically beaten back during winter freezes,
two relatively mild winters in a row for Arkansas allowed red banded stink bugs to
overwinter in the state, giving them a head-start in the spring of 2017.
“We frankly haven’t had much acreage for red banded stink bugs in the last four to
five years,” Lorenz said. “So these two mild winters we’ve had in a row have had a
huge impact. They were extremely problematic for growers, especially in the southern
part of the state, who typically made from one to four additional pesticide applications
to get them under control, costing an additional $12-$60 an acre.”
During the last week of 2017, overnight lows began dipping into the teens, and daytime
highs gradually crept lower and lower as well. Nick Bateman, Assistant Professor of
Entomology for the Division of Agriculture, said that at sustained temperatures of
33-40 degrees, 90 percent of a given stink bug population will die off after seven
hours. At 32 degrees or below, 95 percent will die off after seven days.
“Whether the red banded stink bug population will zero out completely in Arkansas,
we’ll be able to determine in the spring,” Bateman said. “But right now, it seems
like the central and northern half of the state is probably going to be in pretty
Bateman said the cold temperatures will also be helpful to Arkansas growers in terms
of dealing with more common pests in the state.
“A lot of the insect pests we deal with are weather-sensitive,” he said. “Fall armyworms,
rice water weevil and other pests that traditionally migrate — this will help push
them back out of the state, rather than overwintering here. It’ll take them a longer
time to migrate back into the state.”
The cold can also impact beneficial insects, Lorenz said, including nabbits, lady
beetles and parasitic wasps. But beneficial insects are more likely to be native to
a given area, and the low temperatures will be a net positive for growers in the state,
Lorenz said that while beating back the red banded stink bug may be welcome news,
growers should still be ready to do the work necessary to put themselves in the best
position for success in 2018.
“As we go into the 2018 season, the things that growers can do to take full advantage
of this weather are the same things we would normally tell them to do to avoid pests,
including planting early and using early-maturing varieties,” Lorenz said. “If you
plant early, you avoid a lot of these pests.”
To learn about row crops in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org