Sugarcane Aphid Reported In Southern Indiana Counties

The sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari), a relatively new pest of grain sorghum, forage sorghums, sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and Johnson grass, first detected in Indiana in 2016, is making its presence known primarily in southcentral and southwestern counties. Indiana is at the northern edge of its current range, so it is currently not a widespread or serious pest, but it is worth paying attention to for growers in the southern part of the state.

This pest was first detected in the US on sorghum in 2013. This is a late season pest and now is the time to be actively scouting fields and pastures.  This aphid can be separated from other aphids found in sorghum by its grey, tan, or pale yellow body contrasted with feet, antennae and cornicles (things that look like two tailpipes at the end of the body) that are all black. Like most aphids, this pest has the potential to produce clones and rapidly increase in abundance when conditions are favorable.

Crop injury is characterized by wilting and yellowing (with possible plant death) of stems and leaves due to the feeding by this piercing/sucking type of insect.  Yields can be significantly reduced when aphid numbers are high.   Additionally, the accumulation of aphid excrement called honeydew and the molds that grow on it can interfere with harvest activities.

 

Sugarcane aphid in south central Indiana sorghum (Photo Credit: B. Shelton)

Sugarcane aphid in southcentral Indiana sorghum. (Photo Credit: B. Shelton)

 

Close-up of sugarcane aphid, note the black tipped "feet", antennae, and cornicles ("tail pipes"). (Photo Credit: John Obermeyer)

Close-up of sugarcane aphid, note the black tipped “feet,” antennae, and cornicles (“tail pipes”). (Photo Credit: John Obermeyer)

 

Fields should be scouted every three to four days starting in mid-August.  Treatment thresholds are not well established, but data from Clemson University suggests treatment at “20% [of] plants infested with localized areas of heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies until boot [stage]. After boot and until dough stage, a threshold of 30% plants infested is to be considered.”

Products labeled for control are limited. Sefina (BASF) recently received EPA approval in sorghum for aphid control, it has been used in Southwest States, though we have no experience with this product and efficacy in the Midwest.  Pyrethroids should be avoided as they will reduce natural enemies and cause the aphids to rebound quickly.  Texas A&M suggests “An alternative to insecticide treatment may be grazing or early harvest.”

Further resources:

Sugarcane Aphid and Potential Strategies for Control” (University of California, Davis)

Grain Sorghum Insect Control” (Clemson)

Forage Sorghum Insects” (Texas A&M)

 

Share This Article
It is the policy of the Purdue University that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational programs, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran. Purdue is an Affirmative Action Institution. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO Disclaimer: Reference to products in this publication is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in this publication assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Pest&Crop newsletter - Department of Entomology Purdue University 901 W. State St. West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2021 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Pest&Crop newsletter

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Pest&Crop newsletter at luck@purdue.edu.