Prepare now for next season’s pest control

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Growers are still busy managing this year’s crops. However, now is the time to begin reducing your insect pest problems for next season. Mortality during the winter months has a huge impact on Michigan insect populations. Although insects that live here year-round are somewhat adapted to cold weather, their ability to tolerate cold weather is limited. In general, the colder the overwintering habitat, the higher the winter mortality.

Other factors, such as too much or too little moisture also affect overwintering. Obviously, we have little control over the weather, but there are things that can be done to reduce pest survival. For those insects that spend the winter in crop residue (for example, European corn borer, onion maggot, etc.), chopping and spreading residue will expose them more to severe weather and decrease survival. Some insects, such as corn flea beetles, cucumber beetles and others overwinter in protected areas such as ditch banks and hedge rows. Keeping these areas relatively clear of trash and debris will reduce survival.

On the other hand, these areas also serve as overwintering habitat to many natural enemies, so totally clearing these areas could increase pest problems. Finally, rotating your crops so that next year’s field is as far away as possible from protected areas next to this year’s field (where high overwintering survival is expected) can delay and reduce pest populations.

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