Yesterday my light trap went up; this morning I recovered around 40 adult sugarcane beetles. Although sugarcane beetle has historically been a sporadic pest, it was a widespread problem across parts of the entire South in 2012 (click here to see a Southeast Farm Press article from 2011). In North Carolina, the worst problems occurred in the Piedmont. I noticed this insect last year in eastern North Carolina, on corn that did not have a 1250 rate of Poncho or Cruiser, and on cotton. Although there are many questions regarding biology, we think that this insect has a single generation a year, with adults moving from overwintering hosts to alternative hosts. The literature says that this movement begins in North Carolina during April, but it is obviously happening earlier than this. Host plants include corn, sugarcane, and rice, but it also infests cotton, strawberry, rose, and wild grasses.
Sugarcane beetle can damage corn up to 24 inches in height. The adults are very powerful diggers (we have a report from Rowan County of an adult chewing through a Styrofoam cup) and will feed below the soil surface. Eggs are deposited below the soil and the resulting larvae are not pests, but feed on decaying organic matter. Adults emerge in August or September and will leave fields to hibernate. On corn, the Poncho 1250 seed treatment is the best (providing good, but not excellent control) management option. I will be testing alternative seed treatments this year.