The tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois) (Hemiptera: Miridae), has become the primary target of foliar insecticides in cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., throughout the Midsouth over the past several years. This prompted a reevaluation of existing action thresholds for flowering cotton under current production practices and economics. A trial was conducted at 19 locations throughout the Midsouth during 2006 and 2007. Threshold treatments ranged from a weekly automatic insecticide application to a very high threshold of 10 tarnished plant bugs per 1.5 row-m on a black drop cloth. Individually, all locations reached the lowest threshold, and eight locations had a significant yield loss from tarnished plant bugs. Across all locations, lint yield decreased 0.85 to 1.72% for each threshold increase of one tarnished plant bug per 1.5 row-m. Yield loss was most closely correlated to pest density during the latter half of the flowering period. The relationship between plant bug density or damage and yield was similar for drop cloth, sweep net, and dirty square sampling methods, but the correlations among these sampling methods were not high. Incorporating actual insecticide application data from the trial and average production and economic factors for Midsouth cotton, the economic threshold, if monitoring once per week, should be between 1.6 and 2.6 tarnished plant bugs per 1.5 row-m during the flowering period. More frequent monitoring or situations where insecticide applications are more efficacious may alter this threshold.
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Vol. 102 • No. 5