Category Archives: Insects

Thrips Control in Cotton

I’ve received several phone calls over the past few days about thrips in seedling cotton. Thrips pressure is variable by location with some areas reporting treatable numbers and others finding a few adults scattered around.  Application timing is critical for the best control.  Our research has shown that applications made early, before the second true leaf, provides the most benefit.

Options for foliar oversprays are limited to organophosphates  (Acephate, Bidrin, Dimethoate) and Intrepid Edge. OP resistance is present in West TN and while Acephate may provide some relief a more consistent option is 3.0 oz of Intrepid Edge. Also, increasing the rates of OPs may help some but overcoming resistance with higher rates often doesn’t provide consistent control and can be an expensive mistake.

The take home message, use acephate or other OPs with caution especially if you received questionable control last year and higher rates often aren’t the answer. Intrepid Edge, although the most expensive, is most consistent option that won’t flare spider mites or aphids. Surfactants aren’t required for Intrepid Edge but are highly recommended. Application with a herbicide such as Roundup or Liberty will work.

Side note: I’ve got word that Bidrin is in short supply so if you don’t have what you need for thrips I would think about making other arrangements.


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UT Cotton Scout School (Friday, May 27, 2022)

The UT Cotton Scout School is scheduled for the last Friday of the month, May 27th, at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center (605 Airways Blvd, Jackson). There is no fee, and preregistration is not required. Registration begins at 8:00 AM with the program starting at 8:30. Content will include classroom and hands-on training with an optional go-to-the-field session after lunch. Topics covered will include cotton development and identification and symptoms of insect pests, plant diseases, and weeds.

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Thrips Predictor Model for Cotton

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The thrips infestation predictor tool uses planting date, precipitation, and temperature to create an estimate of the size of local thrips population and the susceptibility of seedling cotton to infestations of tobacco thrips (the predominate thrips species in Tennessee). Models can be run for two weeks  beyond the current date. Planting decisions should be made based on weather, opportunity and agronomic considerations not based on this model.  The model is useful for predicting/anticipating the need for a thrips overspray in addition to an insecticide seed treatment.

Utilizing the model is simple,  users select a planting date and a location based on an interactive map. The model will predict thrips risk for planting dates in a designated time frame. As an example, cotton planted before May 5th in West Tennessee has a somewhat lower risk than cotton planted on May 15th.  If you look at the within season model, cotton planted May 21- 31 has a much higher risk of thrips infestations than cotton planted in early May.  Beware,  the accuracy of this model often improves as we approach the intended planting date and rerunning the model as you get closer to planting is a good practice.  This tool has helped us time our planting of thrips trials to maximize thrips numbers and will hopefully help you do the opposite.

Thrips risk from April 25 to May 15
Thrips risk from April 25 to May 15 (Red is bad)
Within season risk from April 1 to May 31
Within season risk from April 1 to May 31 (Red is bad)
Risk for April 1 through May 31
Risk for April 1 through May 31
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Using the Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton

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A reminder the Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton described in the article below, published last year, is still available for use.  However, the link has changed to


The Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton is a useful tool for predicting whether a foliar insecticide application is needed for thrips control in cotton. It uses local weather data in association with a user defined planting date to estimate the size of the local thrips population, the susceptibility of seedling plants, and thus, the risk of thrips injury. The model is for tobacco thrips, by far the most common species infesting cotton in Tennessee. Continue reading

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The New !!!

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If you haven’t noticed, our website has gotten a facelift.  You may not recognize it when you first visit us at  However, it’s organized similarly to the old version.  I’m sure there are a few bugs that need to be fixed, but take a look!  This site gives you ready access to essentially all UT resources related to row crop production.


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Cotton and Soybean Insect Update: Is it a Wormy Year or Not?

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Corn earworm (bollworm) moth

Sometimes there is no substitute for scouting. Spraying based on rumor or what your neighbor does will get you in trouble (or waste money). I predicted a relatively large corn earworm (bollworm) moth flight, but the average trap catches don’t support that. Having said that, there are definitely pockets of bollworms in late soybean and more widespread issues in cotton. Cotton maturity is all over the board depending on planting date, variety, and field conditions. The most mature cotton is Continue reading

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Bollworm Management in the Coming Weeks

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Bollworm feeding on boll

Although  current moth activity remains relatively low, I’m expecting a peak of moth activity sometime beginning around August 5th through 10th. Bollworm (a.k.a., corn earworm) poses a significant threat to cotton and soybean, and particularly late planted soybean that are still flowering when the flight arrives. Below are some thoughts on managing for this troubling pest. Continue reading

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