Monday, June 10, 2013

Is the Hickory Shuckworm becoming a more serious pest in El Paso County?

Mr. Kevin Giraud, Manager of Helena Chemical Company in Tornillo, placed two pheromone traps for hickory shuckworm (HSW) south of Fabens, near the Rio Grande, on June 3. Just three days later, he had collected 41 HSW moths. In previous years, I have found minimal amounts of HSW larvae and nut damage. This year, I did not set up HSW pheromone traps, but I have done so in the past with little success. Although in other regions HSW is considered a serious pest, pecan growers in El Paso generally do not monitor for HSW. This pecan pest has received little attention and might have been under the radar. Based on these recent captures, I am afraid that HSW populations might be increasing in El Paso region. It is hard to interpret what these captures mean in regards to affecting pecan nut yield and quality. When asked about this subject, Bill Ree commented: HSW pheromone seems to catch adults early in the season, a few during the summer, then more in the late summer or fall”. He added “We (pecan entomologists) just don’t know what the trap catches are telling us so treatments are based on the fact that there was a problem last season and kernel development has reached the half shell stage.” It is not time to panic, but a good moment to monitor the development of this pest. If past events are good indicators of the future, we should find comfort in the fact that this pest has caused only a minor damage in pecan production during recent years. Fortunately, insecticide applications for second generation PNC, in case they are needed, may also reduce HSW population levels. I will be placing HSW pheromone traps in the field soon to monitor this pest more closely.

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