The guild of stem-infesting insect pests of sunflower, Helianthus annuus L., within the central Plains is a concern to producers chiefly due to losses caused by plant lodging from the sunflower stem weevil, Cylindrocopturus adspersus (LeConte) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), and Dectes texanus texanus LeConte (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). The incidence of a root boring moth, Pelochrista womonana (Kearfott) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), also has increased. Experiments were conducted in three locations in Colorado and Kansas during 2001–2003 to investigate the potential of combining planting date and foliar and seed treatment insecticide applications to lower insect stalk densities of these three pests. The impact of these strategies on weevil larval parasitoids also was studied. Eight sunflower stem weevil larval parasitoid species were identified. All were Hymenoptera and included the following (relative composition in parentheses): Nealiolus curculionis (Fitch) (42.6%), Nealiolus collaris (Brues) (3.2%) (Braconidae), Quadrastichus ainsliei Gahan (4.2%) (Eulophidae), Eurytoma tylodermatis Ashmead (13.1%) (Eurytomidae), Neocatolaccus tylodermae (Ashmead) (33.7%), Chlorocytus sp. (1.6%), Pteromalus sp. (0.5%) (Pteromalidae), and Eupelmus sp. (1.0%) (Eupelmidae). The results from this 3-yr study revealed that chemical control was often reliable in protecting the sunflower crop from stem pests and was relatively insensitive to application timing. Although results in some cases were mixed, overall, delayed planting can be a reliable and effective management tool for growers in the central Plains to use in reducing stem-infesting pest densities in sunflower stalks. Chemical control and planting date were compatible with natural mortality contributed by C. adspersus larval parasitoids.
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Vol. 100 • No. 4