Project Summaries

11-956  Project Manager: P. F. O'Leary


Charles P. Suh, USDA-ARS

Cotton producers in the Southern Blacklands (SBL) have reported substantial yield losses to stink bugs during the past several years, but producers remain uncertain which species are infesting fields and producing most of the damage. A study initiated in 2011 was repeated in 2012 to determine which stink bug species commonly infest cotton fields in the Brazos River Bottom (BRB) production area of Texas, where the majority of cotton in the SBL is produced. The composition and relative abundance of stink bugs in nearby corn, milo, and soybean fields was also examined to determine whether these crops were contributing stink bugs to cotton. As in 2011, ten species of stink bugs were collected among the four crops in 2012 and soybean fields contained the greatest diversity of stink bugs (10 species). Two additional species of stink bugs (Euschistus variolarius and Hymenarcys nervosa) were collected in 2012 that were not observed in 2011. Likewise, two species collected in 2011 (Chinavia hilaris and Cosmopepla lintnerinia) were not detected in 2012. Three species, E. servus (Say), Oebalus pugnax (F.), and T. c. accerra, were found in all four crops in 2012. These same three species and C. hilaris were found in all four crops in 2011. As in 2011, a total of six stink bug species were collected from cotton in 2012 with Euschistus servus (brown stink bug) and Thyanta custator acerra (red-shouldered stink bug) accounting for the majority of stink bugs encountered in cotton.  These two species were also abundantly found in nearby soybean fields and, to a lesser extent, in corn fields. Consequently, stink bugs may be moving from these two crops (particularly soybeans) into cotton as corn and soybean plants begin to mature and become less attractive to stink bugs.  As in 2011, the rice stink bug, O. pugnax, was by far the most abundant species collected from milo fields in 2012.  Although C. hilaris and N. viridula were commonly observed in soybean and cotton fields in production years prior to the initiation of our study, neither of these two species were collected in 2012.  Interestingly, no southern green stink bugs were collected in 2011 as well. It has been speculated that the prevalence of "brown" over "green" stink bugs may be partially attributed to the brown stink bug's increased tolerance to insecticides. It also has been shown that temperature during the winter is probably the most important factor contributing to the annual variation in N. viridula populations. Indeed, the winter of 2010/2011 was unusually cold in the BRB and may have resulted in substantial mortality of overwintering adults. Severe drought conditions during the 2011 growing season also may have been a contributing factor as stink populations, in general, were considerably lower in 2012 than in previous years. Interestingly, a general decline in N. viridula populations has been observed in the Southeast Cotton Belt, but the complete absence of N. viridula populations for two years and sudden disappearance of C. hilaris, has not been documented elsewhere. Further investigation of this phenomenon may provide insight on factors that influence stink bug population dynamics in cotton. Nevertheless, our findings indicate E. servus and T. c. accerra are the two most prevalent stink bug species infesting cotton fields in the SBL and are likely responsible for most of the stink bug damage observed in cotton.


Project Year: 2012

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