Originally published April 19, 2013
Over the past three nights Dr. David Kerns has collected 2000+ sugarcane beetles in a black trap on the Macon Ridge Research Station. These large flights of beetles are most likely brought on by the warm temperatures Louisiana has been experiencing the past week.
Adult beetles are the damaging stage of this pest and are dull black and about an inch in length. The sugarcane beetle has strong forelegs and spines adapted for digging allowing for rapid penetration of the soil surface once they have reached a suitable host. Adult feeding occurs below the soil surface and seedling corn suffers the most damage, but corn is susceptible up to 24-inches. This insect is primarily a pest of corn but damage to rice, sweet potatoes and sugarcane can occur throughout the growing season. The immature stage or grubs feed on the roots of grasses in fields often surrounding production corn fields. Therefore, crops adjoining sod fields are most often at greater risk for injury from adult beetles.
The developmental cycle of sugarcane beetles takes about 80 days in Louisiana. Constant flights of adults typically occur in March or April with diapause occurring in October.
Seedling corn with stagnant growth due to cold weather or other factors is most susceptible to sugarcane beetle injury. High rates of neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments will usually provide adequate protection from sugarcane beetles for 14 – 21 days after planting. Research trials have shown that Poncho appears to be more active than Cruiser. However, with the large amount of rainfall and the time elapsed since planting, even higher rates of neonicotinoid seed treatments may not provide adequate protection from these insects. Rescue treatments with pyrethroids can be unreliable due the short residual control they offer and the fact that sugarcane beetle flights are sporadic and unpredictable. Additionally, getting insecticide to the insect is difficult since they tunnel into the soil and feed below ground.
For more information or if you have any questions or concerns please contact Sebe Brown, or Drs. David Kerns or Julien Beuzelin.
Sebe Brown Cell: 318-498-1283 Office: 318-435-2903
Dr. David Kerns Cell: 318-439-4844 Office: 318-435-2157
Dr. Julien Beuzelin Cell: 337-501-7087 Office: 318-473-6523
Sugarcane Beetle Damage to Corn(Photo by A. Catchot)
Adult Sugarcane Beetle (Photo by N. Hummel)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture