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Scouting Bt Cotton for Lepidopterous Pests

J.S. Bacheler


Scouting intensity and focus in transgenic B.t. (BollgardTM) cotton for lepidopterous larvae will vary greatly from area to area across the cotton belt. In a state by state survey of anticipated scouting emphasis and procedures for caterpillar pests in transgenic Bollgard cotton, the primary extension entomologists from each of the cotton-producing states (with the exception of Maryland and Kansas) were contacted. California and New Mexico entomologists anticipated very little Bollgard cotton would be planted in their respective states, with the major Bollgard-susceptible caterpillar pests of little economic importance. Arizona producers can anticipate their pink bollworm emphasis to focus upon the manual opening of bolls to confirm the establishment of larger instars to gauge the effectiveness of Bollgard cotton lines, while scouts elsewhere in the cotton belt will focus on the budworm/bollworm complex. Generally, the entomologists surveyed felt that tobacco budworm scouting would become easier or remain about the same and bollworm scouting to remain about the same or become more difficult. In most of the southeastern and mid-south states, a scouting shift from egg and 1st instar monitoring to 2nd and larger stage larvae was expected, with the recognition of stage of early instar larvae and species recognition (bollworm vs. budworm in either the egg or neonate larval stage) important. Fall and beet armyworm scouting was expected to remain approx. the same by most entomologists, while the status and scouting for European corn borers (primarily a southeastern cotton belt problem) was regarded as minimal. Most of the entomologists surveyed felt that the need for independent crop consultants would increase to accommodate the greater complexity of monitoring pests and beneficials in this new technology, in part due to an anticipated increase in secondary pests and the need for dual (or "platoon") scouting to accommodate producers with both Bollgard and traditional cotton. Several responders offered that the demand for marginal consultants who have traditionally taken an overprotective approach to managing untransformed cotton, will drop sharply as producers try to maximize returns on their Bollgard license investment via more limited larvicide use. Considerably greater entomological expertise will be required to manage lepidopterous pests along with the expected shifts in the status of a broad spectrum of cotton pest and beneficial arthropods.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1996 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 157 - 159
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998