Figure 1. Sugarcane aphid on grain sorghum.
Figure 1. Sugarcane aphid on grain sorghum.

Scott Stewart, Ph.D., entomologist at the University of Tennessee, has tweeted the first discovery of sugarcane aphid (SCA) in Tennessee (July 7, 2015) at the AgriCenter in Memphis. The aphids were found and photographed by Drew Ellis (Figure 1).

Numbers are low, but this finding does indicate that the pest is moving up the Mississippi River Valley.

Several of our colleagues to the south have commented on the numbers of lady beetles feeding on these aphids, helping to keep the pest in check. A single insecticide application will put a stop to all of that help; do not apply until absolutely necessary.

Kentucky producers in counties along the Mississippi River and/or counties contiguous with western Tennessee are most likely to see this pest.  SCA was not reported in Kentucky in 2014 but was collected in western Tennessee counties and in the “boot heel” counties of Missouri in 2014. It is not a foregone conclusion that SCA will reach Kentucky, but it is an important enough pest to keep on your watch list.

Grain Sorghum producers/consultants/scouts, that are Twitter followers are encouraged to follow Dr. Scott Stewart, University of Tennessee (@BugStewart) along with Dr. Gus Lorenz, University of Arkansas, (@guslor77) and Dr. Angus Catchot, Mississippi State University (@acatchot). They will be working to manage this problem in their states before the pest gets to Kentucky; if it gets to Kentucky.