I’m sure many of my growers have heard of the sugarcane aphid, a new invasive species recently found in Texas, not to be mistaken with the yellow sugarcane aphid that we have had down here for years.
The sugarcane aphid is an invasive species that was detected here in the Valley back in October of 2013. Simply put, the sugarcane aphid is very host specific feeding only on grain sorghum, starting from the bottom of the plant and working its way up.
When it feeds it produces lots of honey dew. All aphids are females and can live for 28 days. They reproduce viviparously, giving birth to small, live female aphids which are ready to feed. They then go through 4 nymphal stages and become adults in 5 to 10 days in which then those females can start reproducing more female aphids.
Since planting began a couple of weeks ago, we have started to drive around the valley, surveying fields with sorghum seedlings.
So far the majority of seedlings we have looked at are 1 week old or so do not have any sugarcane aphids present. We are however finding the sugarcane aphid in volunteer sorghum left in the fields and in Johnson grass. The sugarcane aphids are not in high populations right now but there is definitely a well-established population.
This season we all (growers, consultants, and researchers) need to be proactive and start monitoring for this aphid and make applications of insecticides when the sugarcane populations are small.
I would like to request help from my growers this year that if you find these aphids feeding on your grain sorghum to please contact us here at the AgriLife Center in Weslaco at 956-968-5581, ask for Danielle or Raul Villanueva, or call my office at 956-969-5608.
We will be surveying random sorghum fields throughout the valley and looking to see what the effects of the aphid are this year. Many projects are also being conducted to help shed some light on good control practices for the sugarcane aphid.