Entomologists study borers, weevils and stink bugs

Frances Gould, Schultz, Bruce  |  3/4/2015 10:22:46 PM

Mike Stout, LSU AgCenter entomologist, uses a sweep net for stink bugs in his work to fine-tune thresholds for the insect pest.

LSU AgCenter entomologist Mike Stout said the Mexican rice borer continues to be monitored, but it has yet to develop into a major pest in Louisiana.

It has been found in Acadia and Evangeline parishes in addition to several parishes in the southwest corner of Louisiana. “We haven’t found any at the Rice Research Station yet,” Stout said. He suspects the cold winter of 2013-14 may have delayed the insect’s progress.

A $250,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant has been obtained by the LSU AgCenter and Texas A&M to study management of the pest.

The cold also may have delayed the rice water weevil’s appearance in rice crops. “They were about as bad as they ever were, once they got here,” Stout said.

Seed treatments continue to work well against the pest, he said, and a new seed treatment is being tested.

A study is underway to determine if it is possible to supplement nutrient losses caused by weevil feeding. Stout said the study will investigate whether it’s possible to provide a plant with additional nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus to compensate for nutrient loss from the root damage caused by weevils.

Another study underway is looking at a root fungus to determine if it makes a plant more attractive to weevils.

In another study researchers are trying to determine if the expense of adding silicon to soil can be justified to increase a rice plant’s defense against stem borers. Stout said silicon makes a plant’s stem tougher for a stem borer to penetrate. AgCenter plant pathologist Don Groth also will work on the project because it appears that silicon can also help a plant improve disease resistance.

Stout also is working on a stink bug study to determine if the threshold of three to five insects per 10 sweeps during the first two weeks of heading should be revised.

This article was published in the 2015 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report.

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