Farmers and Researchers Work Together Against Bugs
Eastern Washington state is farming country. The flat, open terrain has lent itself to wheat farming for many generations. This year, a bountiful crop of bugs is also on its way.
In late May, researchers from Washington State University (WSU) began monitoring twenty separate sites in Spokane County for signs of pests that attack wheat crops.
Researchers work with farmers to identify pests, and encourage wheat growers to check the WSU website to see what kind of pests are out there. The website is a community resource where common wheat pests can be found or reported, including the wheat head armyworm, wheat midge, aphids, cereal leaf beetle, grasshoppers and Hessian flies.
“If (farmers are) in an area where we’re reporting a potentially worrisome level, then they should be out scouting their fields,” said Diana Roberts, regional extension specialist for WSU Extension in Spokane County.
The armyworm is an insect that concerns farmers, and numbers are up this year. Both native and non-native species can proliferate. Once the peak of the insects arrives, that is the time for researchers to begin sweeping the fields to locate them. Unfortunately, the larvae will not tell scientists what species they are; they must collect larvae and wait until it becomes a moth for identification.
Because of a mild winter, insect activity is beginning earlier this year.
“It’s going to be an interesting year,” said Roberts.