A crop pest in corn?

Dectes texanus is a favorite insect of mine. It is super-elegant in its spiffy grey pelage, it

Dectes texanus on corn. Crittenden County, Arkansas - Kelly Tindall Photo

Dectes texanus on corn. Crittenden County, Arkansas – Kelly Tindall Photo

sings a cheery beetle song, and reveals itself intimately to the patient and unobtrusive observer. Dectes texanus was first noticed to cause yield loss in soybeans due to stem lodging.

Dectes texanus is a native insect that found the introduced soybean to be a suitable developmental host in addition to the ancestral herbaceous members of the Asteraceae. In late June, Kelly Tindall found D. texanus in corn in Crittenden County, Arkansas. Now before we call in the crop dusters, let us look at what is happening. The field was soybeans the year before – even though the field was  plowed, normal working does not bury all the stems deep enough to thwart D. texanus. The presence of a soybean pest in corn does not equal corn crop failure, even in soybeans D. texanus is not a major yield problem. For many pest species economic thresholds have been developed as an IPM decision making tool. Kelly and I have seen D. texanus emerging in corn and cotton behind soybeans before – the reason for making mention of this occurrence is: 1) Kelly and I like D. texanus and 2) we thought it important to point out the presence of a crop pest does not equal crop problems.

Here in Obion County, TN I have talked to farmers who think they had yield losses in 2012 soybeans. It will be interesting to examine this further. Hopefully, I will not be looking at D. texanus problems in anyone’s corn this fall.

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