Blizzard’s silver lining: bug kill
By South Dakota Ag Connection
While the aftermath of Winter Storm Atlas is still felt by ranchers, growers of field and forage crops in storm-hit areas of western South Dakota might see an unexpected positive outcome for the coming season on insect pressure, said Anitha Chirumamilla, South Dakota State University Extension entomology field specialist.
She explains that the early storm didn’t give insects an opportunity to go into diapause — the winter survival technique of many cold-hardy insects.
Chirumamilla points to two unusual climatic events that occurred this fall which might have fatal effects on insects: 1) Early snow likely killed many insects as their bodies were not physiologically ready to tolerate the cold stress; and 2) The immediate wet cycle that lasted for more than two weeks probably killed a large portion of insects that were already making their move to dormant sites but did not reach their destination.
Considering the cropping pattern in West River South Dakota, Chirumamilla said the major insects of economic concern such as alfalfa weevil, grasshoppers, blister beetles, banded sunflower moth, red sunflower seed weevil, wheat stem saw fly, wheat midge and corn rootworm that overwinter in soil or stubbles will be hit hard.