Bollworm Flight Has Started- Scouting Tips

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Bollworm moth catches have been ticking up across the state this week, especially in southern counties of the state. Any cotton that is blooming is highly attractive places for moths to lay eggs.

Scouts should already be active in fields, as cotton should be scouted for tarnished plant bug as soon as squares are present. Start scouting for bollworm once bolls are present. We have a video resource that describes how to scout for the most important mid-season cotton pests, including bollworm, tarnished plant bug, and stink bug. This video is specific to how to scout and manage bollworm in cotton. Finally, this section in the NC Cotton Scouting Guide describes how to scout for bollworms.

Keep in mind that we do not need to treat based on eggs, or even the presence of 1st stage caterpillars in Bollgard 3, TwinLink Plus, and WideStrike 3 varieties. Bollworms must consume the tissue to be killed. Please use a threshold of 4% damaged bolls in these varieties.

Here are a few good-practice tips for scouting insect pests in cotton (modified from Jack Bacheler):

  1. Good scouting will pay for itself more if growers can:
    1. Break up a farm into individual management zones. Think about things like planting date, varietal maturity, field size, historical pressure
    2. Hire a specialized professional
      1. Grower time is valuable and farms are becoming larger
      2. Insecticide choice is often nuanced, dependent on correct species identification, quantification, and expected future pest pressure
      3. Growers often won’t take random samples because they don’t want to miss any damage. They are emotionally invested!
      4. Check behind the professional for quality control
      5. Reliable scouting is hot and tedious work in July, August, and September
  1. Scouting equipment should include a sweep net for cotton pre-bloom, a black drop cloth (~2 1/2 foot long) for cotton post-bloom, a knife for splitting bolls, a hand lens, and something to record data
  1. Do not scout field borders (unless you want to find edge associated species like stink bugs and tarnished plant bugs), under power lines or other obstructions, and vigorously growing areas since they tend to harbor more pests
  1. Scouts should record exactly what is found in a timely manner, without over or underestimation