Herald-Whig

Watch out for spotted lanternfly, redbanded stink bugs

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 4, 2018 12:01 am

University of Missouri Extension entomologist Kevin Rice says "the genie's out of the bottle" on the spotted lanternfly.

Entomologists found the spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania in 2014 and Virginia, Delaware and New York in January 2018. It likely is making its way to Missouri, Rice said.

The plant hopper's eggs travel on metal objects such as railroad cars, boats and tractor-trailers. Its primary host plant is grapes, but it also affects other fruit and ornamental trees and hops. It was observed feeding on soybean and corn in Pennsylvania in 2017.

The adult spotted lanternfly's forewing is gray with black spots, and the wingtips are black blocks outlined in gray. It has distinguishing bright orange-red and white underwings.

Another insect with the potential to make its way to mid-Missouri soon is the redbanded stink bug, which is already in southeastern Missouri. The Brazilian native feeds on soybean pods.

Louisiana and Arkansas soybean growers consider it a major pest. Rice said it often makes a comeback, even after sprayed with insecticides. It feeds on numerous host plants, including legumes such as clover. There can be several generations each year.

Identification of the redbanded stink bug is critical, Rice said, as the allowable threshold is lower than for other stink bugs. Plant early to prevent this late-season pest, Rice said. There are no resistant plant varieties.

Stink bugs puncture pods, reducing quality and yield. This voracious eater has been identified in seven Missouri counties and is considered a nuisance pest. It feeds on more than 300 plant species, eating on the edge of fields before attacking corn at R3 and R4 stages and soybean at R4 to R6 stages.

Rice recommends frequent scouting of fields and wooded areas near fields. Use pyrethroids and neonicotinoid-pyrethroid mixtures on field borders.

?Soil and chronic wasting disease

Deer infected with chronic wasting disease are doomed to a slow and certain death, eventually wasting away as they lose the ability to eat and drink. There is no cure and no vaccine, and the number of infected deer continues to rise every year.

But University of Illinois scientists recently published a new study that could help explain the movement of the disease across the landscape.

Chronic wasting disease is caused by a prion, a sort of mutant protein with an unusual folding pattern that tricks the body's own proteins into mutating too. After enough proteins get involved, holes begin to form in the brain.

A key element to managing the disease is reducing exposure to the prion.

In the study, the team looked at the relationship between soil characteristics and presence of deer with the disease in five northern Illinois counties where infected deer are prevalent. Analysis showed the amount of clay in a given soil was a major determining factor to predict where the disease was more likely to persist. Soils with more than 18 percent clay were associated with a steep drop in cases of the disease.

"Clay can tend to immobilize molecules, and we think at these higher concentrations, clay is holding onto the prions, so they're not bioavailable," said Sheena Dorak, lead author of the study and research associate with the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Soil pH also was influential, with more cases of the disease at a pH greater than 6.6. Above 6.6, prions don't stick as well to the soil and are free to be picked up by curious deer.