The Sugarcane Aphid Goes West: Arizona Sorghum Fields Infested With Crop Pest

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Monday, September 5, 2016 - 10:09am
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(Photo courtesy Peter Ellsworth - Arizona Pest Management Center)
Aphids on a leaf of sorghum.

Arizona farmers are facing a new, invasive threat when it comes to growing field crops.

The sugarcane aphid isn’t limited to sugarcane anymore. It’s been found on sorghum plants, which provide feed for dairies, in central Arizona this year.

Arizona Pest Management Center Director Peter Ellsworth has been tracking the pest as it made its way west.

“And as a new pest to our area, our growers were not familiar with it and were not ready to deal with it or even to detect it,” Ellsworth said.

This is the first time the bug has been surveyed in the area, and it can be devastating to fields.

Ellsworth said farmers should look for the bug in their fields before it’s too late.

“It’s a serious issue mainly because it’s a very fast growing insect," he said. "It can turn over generations very, very quickly, and overwhelm a field in a very short period of time.”

Ellsworth says farmers can use insecticides to manage infested fields, something they haven’t had to do before.

“It will change how we approach the production of sorghum,” Ellsworth said.

The sugarcane aphid has been detected in fields all over Maricopa and Pinal counties.

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