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Early spring means early insects – Audio

[audio:|titles=Phil Pellitteri early spring means early insects]
Insects on an accelerated calendar

Phil Pellitteri, UW Insect Diagnostic Lab
Department of Entomology
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-6510

3:08 – Total Time

0:15 – Early spring, early insects
0:33 – Examples of early insects
1:13 – Recommendations
1:54 – Most astonishing early insect in 2012
2:43 – Alfalfa and corn pests
2:59 – Lead out


The accelerated insect calendar. We’re visiting today with Phil Pelitteri, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Sevie Kenyon: I understand our insect calendar is advanced this spring?

Phil Pelitteri: Oh boy, we’re seeing things that are really unprecedented. Basically, we’re seeing things three or four weeks earlier than we have ever recorded and then as we track this out as the year goes on the phenomena continues. And so you do have to pretend it’s really two to three weeks later than it is.

Sevie Kenyon: Phil, can you give us some examples?

Phil Pelitteri: Kind of a classic, you know, in the spring we often get immigrants like Potato Leaf Hopper and some of the cutworms that fly up here but you need a strong southerly airflow. That often doesn’t happen until well into April and even early May. This year it happened in March. And then even the insects that were already here when their eggs would hatch two to three weeks early. I think what makes sense to people is when you think about when your plants were blooming, you know back in May when the lilacs were out two to three weeks early, well, the insects that are out when the lilacs are out were also out two to three weeks early. So as I said, everything has kind of continued that way but it really does make life difficult when you’re used to working on a calendar schedule.

Sevie Kenyon: Phil, do you have some recommendations for people watching this accelerated insect calendar?

Phil Pelitteri:  Well, you know, if you’re a serious gardener or farmer one of the things that’s better to do than look at the calendar is to correlate the natural activity of plants and animals and whatnot with each other. And so if the plants are two weeks early and the insects will be two weeks early that are in that timeframe and I think that’s probably the thing for people that are serious about this is that you can get into some depth if you want to go on the Internet and look this kind of thing up. If you’re used to treating something on the 1st of July the recommendation, easily, to make right now is that plants could probably be treated about the 15th of June or maybe even a week earlier than that. If you use the calendar this year, unfortunately, you will be incorrect and will have missed your opportunity.

Sevie Kenyon: What’s the most astonishing thing you’ve seen this spring?

Phil Pelitteri: Really the phenomena of large number of Cutworm Moth eggs laid up in the northern part of the state on the sides of people’s houses, which is something that I have never seen. We’re kind of sitting, waiting, right now to see if this is going to develop into a serious garden problem because the species, the Variegated Cutworm, is a general pest of tomatoes, potatoes, hostas, you know, almost anything you grow in the back yard, potentially, are food sources. It’s going to be interesting to see if it really does evolve into as much activity. It’s going to be one of those, you know, like some of those Army Worm outbreaks that we get occasionally where it’s just like a science fiction movie. And, you know, we get a little bit of spotty activity almost every year but I have never quite seen this kind of phenomena. Thirty-five years of running the diagnostic lab I have not seen this particular kind of problem before.

Sevie Kenyon: Our corn, soybean and alfalfa growers, what should they keep in mind?

Phil Pelitteri: The Potato Leaf Hopper, which is the real curse, especially of alfalfa, did get up here dramatically early. We just got to keep records on this. Going back to this calendar story, European Corn Borer, even though we came into the spring with very low populations, they have been active two or three weeks earlier than normal.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Phil Pelitteri, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.