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Plant & Pest Advisory > Vegetable Crops

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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Insect Pests in 2012

-Joe Ingerson-Mahar

Given the kind of winter and early spring that we have experienced one has to wonder what insect pests will be like for the 2012 growing season. Unfortunately, there is no good answer to this question. Despite the warmer than normal winter temperatures and some significantly warm days in March and April, it doesn't mean that insect pests survived in large numbers.

Insects that are dependent upon heat accumulation for their activity will be affected by these early high temperatures. For example, based upon degree-day accumulation of heat units (base 50), the first moths of European corn borer should begin to appear now in southern New Jersey, about two to three weeks ahead of normal. Soil insects, such as white grubs, wireworms, and rootworms will be less affected by the early season heat and will be more likely to appear at the usual times during the year.

All of the typical early season insects are out including aphids, flea beetles and the seed corn maggot group (onion maggot, cabbage maggot and others). We have already seen some of the minor general feeders such as tarnished plant bug and spotted cucumber beetle. And it is likely that potato leafhopper is present now largely feeding on ornamentals and trees.

Because of the unusual weather, early insect populations and farmers planting some crops earlier than usual, there may be some unexpected pest infestations. Farmers should more than ever routinely check or scout their crops for potential problems.