Mar 4, 2020
Lettuce Aphid Spreading
Lettuce aphid (commonly referred to as red aphid
) showed up early this year in organic lettuce and had not been reported in conventional lettuce until the past few weeks. It now appears to be spreading and showing up more regularly in lettuce fields throughout the area. Over the past two weeks I have had several conversations with PCAs concerning lettuce aphid in both organic and conventional lettuce with reports of infested fields in Roll, Bard, Dome Valley, Wellton and Yuma Valley. They are beginning to build up to high numbers at the Yuma Ag Center, and in fact are the predominant aphid species present in my lettuce efficacy trials. This is not real common. The last time lettuce aphids were this abundant on desert produce was the spring of 2012. Keep in mind, daytime high temperatures in the 70-80's are ideal for lettuce aphid population growth, and the 14-day weather forecast suggests that lettuce aphid will be around for a while.
A few things to consider about lettuce aphids relative to the other aphids we commonly see. Lettuce aphids prefer to colonize the terminal growth, and generally found in the heads or hearts. Sampling should be focused in the terminal growth of young plants, and in the heads and hearts of older plants. When they are present under ideal temperatures (like right now)
they can reproduce prolifically, producing many more winged adults than other aphid species. This is likely why we are beginning increased dispersal and new infestations.
Finally, a few suggestions for management. If your lettuce is young and not closed in yet, consider using an aphicide with contact activity like Sequoia. Assuming sprays can reach new growth, you should see dead aphids with 3-5 days. Also, avoid using pyrethroids on smaller lettuce. This will conserve some of the natural enemies like syrphid fly and lady beetle larvae that may provide some additional control. On older lettuce you best choice is Movento at 5 oz/ac. It is advised that you increase your rate of penetrating adjuvant to 0.375 % vol/vol or higher on larger plants. This should help move the product into the vascular tissue and improve systemic activity. Don’t expect to initially see a lot of dead aphids. It normally requires 7-10 days of activity before significant reduction in the infestation is observed. Sooner when temperatures are in the 80’s. Look for the wingless adults (larger brown forms); their absence is a good sign that you are cycling them out. Obviously, use of pyrethroids is more important on lettuce approaching harvest in order to prevent contamination by trash bugs. For more information on lettuce aphid please refer to Lettuce Aphid on Spring Produce.
To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu