A complex of hemipterans, especially the tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois) (Hemiptera: Miridae), has become a major target of insecticides in flowering cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., in the mid-southern United States. Sampling protocols for this complex during this period of cotton development are poorly established, resulting in uncertainty about when infestations warrant treatment. Nine direct and indirect sampling methods were evaluated for bias, precision, and efficiency in cotton throughout the Mid-South during 2005 and 2006. The tarnished plant bug represented 94% of the bug complex in both years. Sweep-net and black drop-cloth methods were more efficient than other direct sampling methods, but they were biased toward adults and nymphs, respectively. Sampling dirty blooms was the most efficient indirect sampling method. The sweep-net, whole-plant, and dirty-bloom methods were more accurate than the other sampling methods evaluated based on correlations with other sampling methods. Variability attributed to the person collecting the sample was significant for all sampling methods, but least significant for the dirty-square method. Further research is needed to establish thresholds based on sweep-net, drop-cloth, dirty-square, and dirty-bloom sampling methods as these methods provide the best combinations of accuracy and efficiency for sampling tarnished plant bugs in cotton.
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