California Strawberry Field Invaded

False chinch bug collage

There was an isolated incident recently of heavy infestation in a Santa Maria, CA, strawberry field of false chinch bug, Nysius sp. (very likely N. raphanus).

Surendra Dara,a UC Cooperative Extension strawberry and vegetable crops advisor, reports on his blog that false chinch bug is normally not a pest of strawberries or cultivated crops. They usually multiply on herbaceous weeds during springtime and move on the nearby cultivated crops when the weed hosts dry out.

In this incident, an old, leftover strawberry field with severe weed growth right next to the cultivated strawberry field harbored false chinch bug populations which moved to the new strawberry field. The grower immediately treated the field with malathion and bifenthrin (Brigade) that effectively controlled the migrating pest.

Dara says this is a classic example of weeds and alternate hosts serving as a source of pest populations. It emphasizes the importance of cultural practices such as managing weeds and alternate hosts of pests and good agronomic practices for controlling pests without pesticide application. Such cultural practices are also important for avoiding early infestations of lygus bug, a major pest of strawberries on California’s Central Coast.

For more details, check out Dara’s blog.

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