Keep eyes peeled for armyworms and planthoppers

Dr. Mo Way
Rice Research Entomologist

Here in Texas, we’re off to a cold, rather wet spring, which creates a challenge for stand establishment. I hope the weather warms soon.

This month, I want to talk about mid-season insect pest control for Texas rice farmers. If you did not treat your seed with an insecticide to control rice water weevil, I suggest you apply a labeled pyrethroid or Belay just before your permanent flood.

You can also apply Dimilin 2L soon after your permanent flood. So there is no excuse for not controlling this root-feeding pest. The treatment threshold for the rice water weevil is very low; most untreated fields will develop above-threshold populations of rice water weevil larvae.

Also, be on the lookout for fall armyworm. In Texas, we generally see infestations of this pest crop up around Mother’s Day (mid-May), but I have observed earlier and later infestations, including heavy populations on the ratoon crop.

If you treated your seed with Dermacor X-100, you should get good control of this defoliator even into your ratoon crop.

Labeled pyrethroids are effective, but you must scout your fields from emergence to ensure you control the larvae before significant defoliation occurs. Twenty percent defoliation is the treatment threshold for the fall armyworm.

Although we have not observed the rice delphacid in Texas since 2015, still be on alert for this exotic pest. I have a hunch it blew in from Mexico or Central America during the late summer of 2015.

The weather experts predict an active hurricane season in the Gulf this year, which could mean strong winds from the south impacting our Texas Rice Belt. So please scout your fields for this pest, too.

kids at the InsectExpo 2018
Dr. Andrine Shufran of Oklahoma State University (back row, second from right) helped students learn about bugs during InsectExpo 2018 — photo by Dr. M.O. Way

If you observe small, active, hopping insects (about the size of leafhoppers) in your field or if you see your rice yellowing or discoloring for no apparent reason, contact me ASAP at, 409-658-2186 or 409-239-4265.

Lastly, I want to mention a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activity I was involved in last month at the Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Andrine Shufran (Oklahoma State University), and Wizzie Brown and Molly Keck (both with Texas A&M University) organized and hosted this event for local elementary students. The students participated in fun “bug activities” to get them interested in science.

Activities included eating fried, seasoned insects (I think crickets or mealworms); learning about the biology of blowfies and making art with the maggots; observing bed bugs feeding on a blood meal; learning about the various mouthparts of insects by actually mimicking their feeding activities; etc. It was obvious by all the smiles, laughter and big eyes that the kids had a great time while learning about entomology!

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