MANHATTAN—Although insects seem to be out in full force this year, according to Kansas State University entomologist Raymond Cloyd, Ph.D., in this regard, 2020 is no worse than other years. Although, Cloyd said, there’s quite a bit of activity out there.
Cloyd said many bugs can be handpicked, but for some, the work is too unwieldy. Before resorting to insecticides, Cloyd recommends physically removing insects or placing a soapy water solution on the plant.
"You can blast the bottom of leaves with the forceful water spray that will dislodge mites and aphids," he said. "You can also spray insecticidal soaps. A high-pressure sprayer that delivers a large volume of spray may be necessary for effective treatment."
The insect to look out for this year is the harlequin bug.
"The harlequin bug is really out and feeding on collards and horseradish," he said.
In addition, the bag worms are also out in full force.
"They have just exploded this year," he said. "Bagworms love juniper and cedar trees."
The bagworm is native to North America and can feed for three months on plant foliage. They can defoliate trees or shrubs.
"Bagworm bags are brown and easy to see in contrast with surrounding foliage," Cloyd said. "The bags hang from branches like Christmas tree ornaments."
K-State offers a fact sheet on bagworms and redheaded flea beetles.
Bill Hilbert of Topeka, a retired entomologist, is observing many Japanese beetles, but again, no more than usual.
"They love grapes," Hilbert said. "They also love fragrant trees."
Hilbert said these bugs, which are very difficult to eradicate, were brought in from other parts of the country years ago. But the good news is this damaging insect is only around in this region for about six weeks.