All posts by Sandy Steckel, Extension Assistant

Plant bugs are off to an even earlier start

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Tarnished plant bugs are the #1 insect pest of cotton in Tennessee. In the fall of the year, tarnished plant bug (TPB) nymphs develop into adults on weedy hosts, and these adults overwinter on these hosts or plant debris. Previous studies have found that overwintered populations of tarnished plant bugs emerge from diapause in late winter or early spring, triggered by a combination of cues including a good food source and warm temperatures.   Continue reading


Interesting Insects: An evil weevil

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One day this winter at the research station, an administrative assistant discovered many very small, brown insects crawling on the floor and wall near the bottom of a stairwell. She brought them to the attention of the Bugs Crew and Dr. Stewart identified them as granary weevils (Coleoptera: Superfamily Curculionidae: Subfamily Dryophthorinae). He then knew that there was some corn or other whole grain somewhere nearby that these weevils were feeding on. Indeed, there were some small baskets of shelled field corn used in an educational display, but now stored in a closet, that were heavily infested with these pests. Continue reading


Interesting Insects: Hover flies

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Hover fly
Hover fly

Adult flies in the Syrphidae family are conspicuous day-flying insects that are very skilled at hovering, and love to frequent flowers, which led to their common names of “hover flies” or “flower flies”. They are brightly colored and are very abundant in many familiar environments. Many of the hover flies strongly mimic bees in coloration and sound and it is no wonder why many folks confuse them for being small bees or even pests. Continue reading


Interesting Insects: Blister beetles

Occasionally, you catch a blister beetle in a sweep net sample in Tennessee soybeans. These large, showy adult beetles may also feed in clusters and defoliate the plants. Defoliation of soybeans in an area a big as a pickup truck is not a concern, but if it occurs over a large area, such as the size of a barn, treatment is warranted. Refer to PB 1768 for control options. Continue reading


Interesting Insects – Wireworms

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There are about 1000 North American species and most larvae in this family are slender, hard-bodied and shiny, which is how they got the name “wireworms”.  Many are found in the soil where they feed on newly planted seeds and roots of plants, including some important crops such as corn, cereals, cotton, beans, and potatoes. Continue reading


What is this caterpillar in my net?

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SS-Skipper (7) webThe silver-spotted skipper, Epargyreus clarus, is a butterfly (pictured below) in the insect family Hesperiidae.  It is one of the largest, most widespread and commonly recognized skippers in North America.  The wing span of an adult may reach 2.4 inches.  Wings are brownish-colored with a median row of yellowish-gold spots on the forewings and a large, median, irregular-shaped patch of white on the hind wings.  Wing fringes are dashed with white.  Antennae are hook-tipped.  Skippers are well known for their rapid, Continue reading