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Insect Pests of Leafy Vegetables and Melons at Stand Establishment (Aug. 11, 2010)

Most fall melon crops are in the ground, and planting of produce crops is not far behind. In these fall crops, PCAs are likely to encounter a number of insects that have the potential to cause serious economic losses to seedling crops during stand establishment. These include flea beetles, crickets (sometimes grasshoppers), darkling and rove beetles, and saltmarsh caterpillers. Seedling crops at the cotyledon stage are most susceptible to these pests, where feeding by large numbers can devour much of the cotyledons or outright kill the small plant. If left uncontrolled, larger seedling plants (2-4 leaf stage) can sustain significant feeding damage on the newly emerged leaves. Not only can this feeding stunt plant growth, but can result in lack of uniformity and maturity at harvest. Host sources of beetle, cricket and "wooly worm" infestations include numerous weeds, sudangrass, cotton and alfalfa. As these summer host plants are harvested during the next several weeks, these seedling pests typically move to the next available host crop - lettuce, cole crops and melons. Fortunately, there are many registered insecticide alternatives available that can be applied via chemigation or foliar sprays that can cost-effectively minimize their abundance and damage to produce and melons crops. For more information on insect pests of leafy vegetables and melons at stand establishment go to this link.

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For questions or comments on any of the topics please contact Marco Pena at the Yuma Agricultural Center.
College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

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