Lygus bugs' destructive eating habits in a wide variety of crops - including cotton, seed alfalfa, strawberries, beans, tree fruit and many others - have motivated UC scientists to forge alliances against the pest at a Lygus Summit Nov. 28 in Visalia, Calif.
Lygus are oval shaped, pale green to reddish brown bugs with a distinctive v-shaped marking on the upper center of their backs. Native to the Western states, lygus bugs feed on flower buds and developing fruit, causing the bud to die or causing damage that renders the fruit or vegetable unmarketable.
The pest's propensity to migrate en masse under certain field conditions means individual farmers can suffer a sudden influx of lygus because of actions or conditions not under their control. For example, a population of lygus might be displaced when rangeland becomes dry or an alfalfa farmer harvests hay. A neighboring cotton or strawberry field might be devastated unless control action is taken.
"Lygus bugs' refusal to respect farmers' property lines means we could be better off working together to manage the pest in various agricultural regions," said Pete Goodell, UC regional integrated pest management advisor and coordinator of the Lygus Summit.
The way lygus are managed in some commodities might also offer clues to growers of other crops that will enable less expensive, more effective and environmentally sensitive lygus management.
"Different commodities don't always share experiences and research findings," Goodell said. "The Lygus Summit provides an opportunity to all farmers, ag industry representatives and scientists for networking and collaboration."