Research > Entomology

Summary

The Field Crops Entomology Program works with industry, Research, Extension, and education partners. Given the large-scale and low-input nature of field crop agroecosystems and ongoing pest invasions affecting U.S. agriculture, goals have been two-fold: developing sustainable and area-wide approaches to managing pests in agroecosystems, and increasing understanding of plant-insect-natural enemy interactions and pest regulation that affect pest outbreak, severity, and regulation. Developing sustainable pest management tools to address invasive and other major pest concerns provide near-term benefits and increase understanding of pest regulation resiliency in managed systems that serve to buffer the impact of pest invasions.

Natural enemies of sugarcane aphids Sugarcane aphid on sorghum is the most recent example of my special focus on invasive pest disruptions and regulation in large-scale agroecosystems. Collaborations have been essential in the Development of Compatible Integrated Pest Management Tactics of Sugarcane Aphid on Sorghum. Research on sorghum susceptibility to sugarcane aphid has yielded research-based thresholds. Research on sorghum resistance to aphids and their compatibility with natural enemies benefited from collaborations from sorghum breeders and fellow entomologists, systematists, and geneticists. Agricultural impact of sugarcane aphid research and outreach is indicated by increasing grower success in managing sugarcane aphid. In South Texas, there has been no grain sorghum acreage reduction since the first outbreaks of 2013, use of aphid- resistant hybrids has increased to about 50% of the acreage, and the remaining acreage is managed with research-based economic thresholds that result in no greater than one insecticide spray for this aphid needed on average annually.

Boll-Feeding insectsOur cotton work on boll-feeding sucking bugs has yielded IPM decision-making tools that have reduced uncertainty in insecticide use for boll protection for sucking bugs and the rot disease they vector. This work was motivated by the practical need to improve the use of insecticides and was coupled with IPM innovation in decision-making by considering thresholds with the option to combine insect density and plant injury evaluations. We also examined the sensitivity of cotton response to cotton fleahopper feeding under water-stressed and non-stressed conditions. In the near-term, growers will be able to improve pest detection in their fields and use insecticides to control them using verified thresholds based partly on this work.

Research on sugarcane aphid on sorghum and cotton insects includes developing pest risk assessment tools using remote sensing for insect-derived stress detection and GIS approaches for mapping the temporal and spatial progression of pest infestations. A research and demonstration project on the effectiveness of GIS-facilitated pest monitoring allows more focused within-field insecticide use. During our demonstration activities, the percent of monitoring sites above pest threshold was significantly lower with GIS-facilitated pest monitoring that detected within-field zones of high infestations than with a traditional whole field decision-making approach for sorghum and cotton insect pests. Realized grower adaptation of this research included segmenting very large fields into zones and maintaining sugarcane aphid infestation data separately to trigger insecticide use more selectively.

Corn ear worm feeding on maize kernelsWork on corn ear-feeding Lepidoptera has demonstrated that pest risk assessment should combine yield quantity (weight) and quality (disease) loss potential. Research is revealing that integrated tactics of insect, disease, and drought stress relief decrease risk to the insects and the mycotoxin-causing organisms they introduce into the ear.

Dr. Michael J. Brewer

Team Members

  • Darwin Anderson
  • David Olsovsky
  • Isaac Esquivel
  • Blake Elkins
  • Leo Deleon

Publications

Listing is in reverse chronological order + indicates student or post-doc. Short titles provided. DOI indicates open access via web, all available as single copies for personal use by emailing M. Brewer)

Research.

  • Esquivel, I.L+., M.J. Brewer, and R.N. Coulson. 2020. A native bee, Melissodes tepaneca, benefits cotton production. Insects. 11, 487; doi:10.3390/insects11080487.
  • Esquivel, I.L. +, M.J. Brewer, and R.N. Coulson. 2020. Field edge and field-to-field influences on two cotton herbivores: cotton fleahopper and verde plant bug. J. Econ. Entomol. 113: in press.
  • Pruter, L.S.+, M. Weaver, and M.J. Brewer. 2020. Overview of risk factors and strategies for management of insect-derived ear injury and aflatoxin accumulation for maize grown in subtropical areas of North America. J. Integ. Pest Manage. 11:8, doi: 10.1093/jipm/pmaa005.
  • Brewer, M. J., L. Deleon+, and I. L. Esquivel.+. 2020. Geographic information system (GIS)-based mapping and spatial analyses applied to risk assessment and resource allocation for boll weevil. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 113: 71-78.
  • Pruter, L.S. +, M.J. Brewer, et al.. 2019. Association of insect-derived ear injury with yield and aflatoxin of maize hybrids varying in Bt transgenes. Environ. Entomol. 48: 1401-1411.
  • Maxson, E.L. +, M.J. Brewer, et al. 2019. Species composition and abundance of the natural enemies of sugarcane aphid. Proc. Wash. Entomol. Soc. 121:657-680.
  • Glover, J.P. +, G.A. Sword, and M.J. Brewer. 2019. Photoperiod-specific within-plant distribution of the green stink bug on cotton. Environ. Entomol. 48: 1234-1240.
  • Wang, H.-H., W.E. Grant, et al. 2019. Integrated modelling of the life cycle and aeroecology of wind-borne pests in temporally variable spatially heterogeneous environment. Ecol. Modelling 399: 23-38.
  • Gordy, J.W. +, M.J. Brewer, et al.. 2019. Development of economic thresholds for sugarcane aphid in susceptible grain sorghum hybrids. J. Econ. Entomol. 112: 1251-1259.
  • Glover, J.P. +, M.J. Brewer, et al.. 2019. Plant response and economic injury levels for a boll feeding sucking bug complex on cotton. J. Econ. Entomol. 112:1227-1236.
  • Brewer, M.J., and J.P. Glover +. 2019. Boll injury caused by leaffooted bug in late-season cotton.Crop Protect. 119: 214-218.
  • Brewer, M.J., F.B. Peairs, and N.C. Elliott. 2019. Invasive cereal aphids of North America: ecology and pest management. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 64: 73-93.
  • Stanton, C.+, M. J. Starek, et al. 2017. Unmanned aircraft system-derived crop height and normalized difference vegetation index metrics for sorghum yield and aphid stress assessment. J. Applied Remote Sensing 11: 026035, doi:10.1117/1.JRS.11.026035.
  • Weaver, M.A., H.K. Abbas, et al. 2017. Integration of biological control and transgenic insect protection for mitigation of aflatoxin in corn. Crop Protect. 98:108-115.
  • Deleon, L.+, M. J. Brewer, et l.. 2017. Use of a geographic information system to produce pest monitoring maps. Crop Protect. 101: 50-57.
  • Bowling, R., M.J. Brewer, et al. 2016. Sugarcane aphid (Homoptera: Aphididae): a new pest on sorghum. J. Integr. Pest Manage. 7: 12; doi.org/10.1093/jipm/pmw011.
  • Outreach.
  • Faris, A.M. +, and M. J. Brewer.  2019. Natural enemies of the sugarcane aphid on sorghum in south Texas, 6 pp. ENTO-091. Texas A&M AgriLife Ext., College Station.
  • Bowling, R., J. Thomas+, and M. Brewer. 2017. Common aphid identification in Texas grains, 2 pp. ENTO-070. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, College Station.
  • Bowling, R, M. Brewer, et al. 2016. Scouting sugarcane aphids in the south, central, and west Texas, 2 pp. ENTO-043/ENTO-043S (Spanish), Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, College Station.
  • Knutson, A., R. Bowling, et al. 2016. The sugarcane aphid: management guidelines for grain and forage sorghum in Texas, 6 pp. ENTO-035. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, College Station.