Raul Villanueva, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky
While monitoring an experimental soybean field in Princeton, I have not noticed major insect pest problems during the earlier stages of soybean growth, with the exception of thrips. Thrips are tiny, slender insects (less than 1/16 inch) with characteristic fringed or bristled wings; they have rasping and sucking mouth parts. During feeding, mouth parts scrape the epidermis of the soybean leaf (it can damage flower, bud, or fruit on other plant species) and then suck plant fluids. In addition to these plant feeding thrips, there are beneficial thrip species that prey upon small insects and spider mites.
Leaves damaged by thrips have a silver coloration and, after a close inspection, black spots can be found on leaves. These spots are frass or feces deposited by thrips after feeding. Leaves can also show a deformation or “cupping” shape. Thrips are also vectors of viruses, such as soybean vein necrosis.
Thrip Species on Soybeans
There are several thrip species on soybeans. The most common is soybean thrip (Sericothrips variabilis), a striped or dark and white banded thrip (Figure 1), wheat thrip (Frankiniella tritici), and tobacco thrip (Frankliniella tabaci). Immature forms of these thrip species are usually yellow and without wings (Figure 2), both adult and larval thrip forms feed on leaves and are found in soybean fields.
|Figure 1. Adult soybean thrip |
(photo credit R.T. Villanueva),
|Figure 2. larval form, notice the |
frass (black spot) deposited by
thrip and damaged area
(photo credit N. Yielding)
Although, my experience working in Kentucky soybean fields is short, my predecessor, Dr. Doug Johnson mentioned that thrips rarely cause economic damage in Kentucky (Soybean Thrips on Soybean). Similar opinions are acknowledged from colleagues who work in Tennessee and Missouri.
Insecticide should be used only when the following conditions are met:
(a) plants are under drought stress,
(b) 75% of leaflets examined are damaged, and
(c) the average number of thrips per trifoliate leaf is greater than 8.
Before using insecticides, we need to be aware of the presence of beneficial predators, such as the “minute pirate bugs” (Orius spp.). During my recent insect tallies, I have observed abundant numbers of immature (Figure 3) and adult (Figure 4) Orius spp. preying upon eggs, larvae, and adult thrip stages. Immature Orius spp. forms have yellow to bright orange coloration.
|Figure 3. Immature Orius spp., |
(Photo credit: N. Yielding).
Figure 4 Adult Orius spp. adult,
an effective beneficial insect
predator of thrips
(Photo credit: N. Yielding).
Figure 5. A 10X headband magnification
visor used to tally thrips on soybean leaves
by the summer intern Nathan Yielding
(Photo credit: Patty Lucas).
If thrip population exceeds more than 8 per leaf, the following insecticides are recommended:
acephate (Orthene: 4 to 8 oz/A), lambda cyhalothrin (Warrior: 1.92 to 3.20 fl oz/A), cypermethrin (Mustang: 3.4 to 4.3 fl oz/A).
The University of Kentucky does not endorse the products mentioned, nor does it disapprove products not listed here. Please check the insecticide label for the proper rates.