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Researchers quantify lygus bug impacts on potatoes

Researchers are tallying the cost of lygus bugs to Washington potato farmers to help determine the most efficient way to control the tiny insects.

“We need to know if the economic damage warrants the cost of an insecticide application,” said Tim Waters, area educator for vegetables for WSU Extension in Franklin and Benton counties.

The damage appears to be worst later in the season. My feeling is, if you let these things go later in the season, you’re going to lose some money,” Waters said. “But having them reproduce in you let these things go later in the season, you’re going to lose some money,” Waters said. “But having them reproduce in your field and grow in number is not a good thing, either,” he said.

Waters and other researchers want to quantify the impact lygus bugs have on potato yield and quality. Alfalfa is a primary driver for lygus populations. The insect also likes weeds, which host lygus during the spring.

Lygus nymphs look similar to adult lygus, growing wings as they mature, Waters said. “They overwinter as adults, so right now they’re out overwintering in plant debris, cracks in the soil and that kind of thing,” Waters said. “We talk a lot about crop diversity in Washington and Oregon, and these things feed on almost every crop that we have.”

Read the full report on Capital Press here