Aphid Fungus

For the first time, I am getting to see what ‘consistent aphids’ looks like in the field. Normally, aphid populations are sporadic, seen only in ‘hot spots.’ This season, they are prevalent in our oldest and youngest cotton. We looked at a field this week where every single plant was affected by aphids in the top 3 – 4 leaves (below). The only reason we don’t talk much about it is UGA research on treating aphids has never found a consistent yield response. The best thing is to limit stress on the plant, and our rainfall is helping us here.

Leaves of 8-leaf cotton curl due to stress of aphids

Classic symptoms of aphids in our cotton variety trial.

Aphid Fungus

But the real new is that yesterday, we confirmed the ‘aphid fungus’ in Thomas County. UGA Extension Entomologist Dr. Phillip Roberts already reported the ‘aphid fungus’ being spotted in Tifton this week. This means, aphids will soon crash.

We observed the aphid fungus, (Neozygites fresenii), which causes aphid populations to crash on the Tifton Campus on June 26, 2017.  We have also received some early observations from both north and south of Tifton.  The presence of grey, fuzzy aphid cadavers is indicative of the naturally occuring fungus (below).  Once observed in the field we would expect aphids to crash within a week.  We typically first observe the fungus in fields with high aphid infestations; and more specifically areas of those fields which were initially infested.  All scouts should be on the lookout for the fungus and be sure to report to growers.

Aphid fungus – Photo by Dr. Phillip Roberts

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