From Across the Field – Dog Days of Summer

Well it is that time of the year where things are a bit slow in the office prior to the local county fairs and harvest here in NW Ohio. For me this is a good time to work on presentations for fall programs in addition to continuing to monitor on-farm research plots and crop conditions. Last week was the first significant increase in Western Bean Cutworm moths in Henry County. In a Bartlow township trap we saw an increase of 98 moths over a week’s time. This is ideal time to scout for egg masses in the growing corn crop. In order to do so look for eggs on 10 plants in 10 different places within a field. The economic threshold, in which treating the field with insecticide would yield a positive return is five egg masses found on the 100 plants scouted.

There are a couple of upcoming field days to take note of in August. The first is a Precision Planter Day in Fulton county at the fairgrounds on the 14th. Several of the area equipment retailers will have the various planters to demonstrate the new technology available when it comes to planting corn. OSU state specialists and county educators will be presenting during the day. RSVP’s for that event should be made to the Fulton County Extension office.

Staying on the theme of precision agriculture the first Tri-State UAV Day will be held in Montpelier on August 27th. Topics that day will include drone regulations, crop scouting, drone software, and demonstrations as well. There is a $20 program fee for this event and RSVP’s should be made to the Williams County Extension office.

About this time a year ago I began getting calls about the cicada killer wasps, and a colleague has mentioned seeing them this past week in the southern parts of the state. These are the largest wasps found in Ohio, measuring 1 1/8-1 5/8″ in length. The males are notoriously territorial and will chase after other males as well as people. Fortunately, it’s all a ruse since the males lack stingers. The females possess stingers but they are not aggressive. The females spend their time digging and provisioning burrows with paralyzed cicada-prey. The males spend their time establishing and defending territories that encompass females. They will aggressively buzz any transgressor who dares to enter their territory – including people.

The females prefer to dig their brood burrows in sandy, bare, well-drained soil that is exposed to full sunlight. Although the wasps are considered solitary, they all practice the same nesting behavior. Thus, it is not unusual for there to be numerous burrows, and wasps, in relatively small areas. Cultural practices that promote a thick growth of turfgrass usually eliminate a cicada killer infestation in a lawn in one or two seasons.  Landscape infestations may be reduced by mulching or by adding plants to shade the soil.

These giant wasps are considered beneficial since they are the nemesis of the annual dog day cicadas. It is no accident that the arrival of the wasps coincides with the arrival of the dog day cicadas. These are beneficial insects so chemical control should be reserved for severe infestations located in close proximity to human activity. I’ll end this week with a quote from Napoleon Hill: “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” Have a great week.

Garth Ruff,
Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator
OSU Henry County Extension

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