The tarnished plant bug, a cotton pest that's a mere ΒΌ-in. long, has become a big pest in cotton. Entomologists from across the country held a meeting in late October to discuss control measures.

At USDA's research center in Stoneville, MS, Gus Lorenz, Arkansas extension entomologist, reported seeing populations as high as 15 tarnished plant bugs/row foot in test plots.

The biggest challenges facing entomologists are determining when to stop controlling for tarnished plant bugs and knowing how much damage they're actually causing.

According to Gordon Snodgrass, a USDA entomologist, there are tarnished plant bugs resistant to Orthene and pyrethroid insecticides. He noted that the resistance level has remained the same over the past six years, and that the resistant pests are in the general population and likely to remain.

The entomologists agree that the tarnished plant bug is becoming a key pest and affects some growers throughout the season.

Future research is focusing on assessing damage, determining optimum spraying times and finding new chemistries that control the insect.