Project Underway to Battle Cotton Pest in Delta
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Tara Weaver-Missick, (301) 504-1619, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 21, 1999
Concern about another major cotton pest that cost growers $75 million last
year has led to an intensive Agricultural Research Service study over a 36-
square-mile area in the Mississippi Delta region.
Scientists have begun a three- to four-year project to find ways to combat
the tarnished plant bug. The study consists of four 9-square-mile areas in
the Delta region, with a possibility of future expansion.
ARS research entomologist Gordon L. Snodgrass, with ARS' Southern Insect
Management Research Unit (SIMRU) in Stoneville, Miss., discovered in 1993
that tarnished plant bugs (Lygus lineolaris)had become resistant to
pyrethroids, a class of insecticides commonly used to control them.
Tarnished plant bugs are a particular problem, because there are more than
100 different weed species on which they can feed and reproduce. In the
winter, they lay dormant in weeds surrounding cotton fields. Then, from
February or mid-to-late March, they emerge and begin laying eggs in the
weeds. In late spring, they move into cotton crops when the weeds mature.
ARS scientist are investigating several different approaches to controlling
plant bug populations, including controlling weeds and using biological
controls and developing a chemical lure called a pheromone.
In field tests last summer, ARS scientists discovered that the males may
produce a perfume-like pheromone that attracts both sexes--probably to
signal food sources--but they are repeating the test this summer to make
It's the only major pest in cotton for which scientists don't have a sex
pheromone, according to Snodgrass. Once they develop a pheromone, they'll be
much closer to banishing the pest from cotton fields.
A longer article on this research appears in the July issue of Agricultural
Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Gordon L. Snodgrass, ARS Southern Insect Management
Research Unit, Stoneville, Miss. phone (601) 686-5231, fax (601) 686-5421,
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