Pest management will be crucial this spring

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By Rick Greenwell

These articles we received from the Pest News Alert  this week, and we thought it was timely information for you all to know.

Potato Leafhopper: A Key Pest on Spring-Seeded Alfalfa
Potato leafhoppers are tiny sap-feeding insects that can significantly affect spring-seeded alfalfa. Mechanical damage caused by feeding, coupled with the effects of their injected saliva, produce a distinctive V-shaped pattern at leaf tips, which is called hopperburn. If leafhopper numbers exceed treatment guidelines, forage yield and quality will be reduced. Hopperburn lowers hay yield and quality of the cutting but the reduction of plant winter-hardiness is a long-term effect. The extended period before the first cutting of spring-seed stand gives plenty of time for leafhopper numbers to build to damaging levels.

Scouting and Management
A 15-inch diameter sweep net is the tool needed to sample for these little insects. Five sets of 20 sweeps from randomly selected areas in a field, coupled with the average plant stem height, is the way to detect and assess the pest before the crop is damaged. A single, well-timed application of any one of several insecticides will provide excellent leafhopper control if numbers exceed treatment guidelines. Information on these topics is available at: http://pest.ca.uky.edu/EXT/Recs/ENT17-Alfalfa.pdf

Ticks on Cattle
Ticks have been active this spring, in spite of a difficult winter, and will be around until early fall. The lone star tick and the American dog tick are our most troublesome species. Cattle usually pick up ticks while grazing in overgrown pastures or next to woods. Ticks crawl around on the animals until they find a protected feeding site with sparse hair cover. Excessive rubbing and scratching to relieve the irritation of tick bites can lead to injury or secondary infection.

Protecting cattle from ticks is a challenge. It helps to use the tick’s perspective when developing a management strategy. Ticks spend most of their life on the ground, digesting a blood meal, molting to the next developmental stage, or waiting for a passing host. Dry air and direct sunlight are their enemies. They survive best in brushy overgrowth that provides increased humidity, protection from direct sunlight, and shelter for animals that are important hosts. Small mammals and deer will help to support tick populations and move them around.

Cattle with access to scrubby overgrowth or along woods or tree lines are very likely to pick up ticks.

Habitat management is the best way to manage tick-infested pastures and grazing areas, and it is the best long term route to reducing tick problems. Mow and remove brush, as practical.

This removes the protection that ticks need to survive while they are off hosts.  When possible, use temporary fencing to keep animals out of tick-infested areas that cannot be cleared. In addition, cleared areas discourage wildlife that can re-introduce ticks and may allow improvement of grazing areas.

An insecticide application may knock back tick numbers, but it is not a long-term solution.

Thorough coverage and repeated applications are needed while ticks are active.

Protecting Pets from Ticks
Pets especially dogs, can easily pick up dozens of ticks as they wander in overgrown areas. Lone star ticks and American dog ticks are most common and can be active from spring into early fall. In addition to irritation and potential health threat to pets, these companion animals bring ticks into yards and living spaces. Consequently, protecting pets from ticks also provides benefits for owners.

A prevention product is a good investment for pets with frequent exposure to ticks. Some examples are listed below by application method. Many also control fleas and some are effective against mites and internal parasites. All are listed by brand name along with the common names of the active ingredients and length of protection according to the label. An insect growth regulator (IGR) is often included for enhanced flea control. In some cases, the same formulation may be used on both dogs and cats, but several have specific dog or cat products. Pyrethroid insecticides, such as permethrin, are toxic to cats and are present in “dog only” products. Products containing permethrin must not be used in households with cats and dogs to prevent the chance of harm to cats.

Collars (Dogs only)
Active ingredients in insecticidal collars are spread over the coat in skin oils. It may take several days for the product to move enough to provide complete body coverage.