Alfalfa weevils start moving in SW Iowa

March 24, 2016 11:37 AM
Blog Post

Adult alfalfa weevils begin moving as soon as temperatures exceed 48°F and begin laying eggs in alfalfa. Alfalfa weevil eggs develop based on temperature, or accumulating degree days, and hatching can start around 200-300 degree days. Start scouting alfalfa fields south of Interstate 80 at 200 degree days and fields north of Interstate 80 at 250 degree days. Based on accumulated temperatures since January, alfalfa weevil larvae could be active in southwest Iowa now.

2016 alfalfa weevil degree day map
Accumulated growing degree days (base 48°F) in Iowa from January 1 – March 23, 2016. Map courtesy of Iowa Environmental Mesonet, ISU Department of Agronomy.

After reaching benchmark degree days (200 in southern Iowa and 250 in northern Iowa), use a sweep net to sample for adults and larvae. South-facing slopes warm up faster and may be a place to start sampling. After larvae are first collected in sweep nets, collect six alfalfa stems from 5 locations throughout the field. Take each stem and vigorously shake into a bucket to dislodge larvae from the plant. Small larvae can be difficult to separate from the plant, therefore careful plant inspection is also needed. Average the number of larvae per 30 stems and plant height to determine if management is required. See the economic threshold table here. Remember, cutting alfalfa is an effective management tool for alfalfa weevil larvae, and an insecticide application may be avoided if harvesting within a few days of reaching the economic threshold.  


Erin Hodgson Professor

Dr. Erin Hodgson started working in the Department of Entomology, now the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology, at Iowa State University in 2009. She is a professor with extension and research responsibilities in corn and soybeans. She has a general background in integrated...