Cotton Seedling Pests Associated with Poor Stand Establishment
Weak stand establishment may be caused by insects or plant pathogens, or by unfavorable weather or soil temperature
at planting. If your cotton stand is weak, look for the pests pictured on this page, which are the primary pests responsible
for stand reduction. For insect pests, you will often need to dig into the soil around damaged areas to find the insect
Each name links to more information on identification and management.
Click on photos to enlarge
Identification tip: Cutworms are various colors, hide during the day, curl up
into a C-shape when disturbed, and chew through seedling stems near the soil line.
Identification tip: Seedcorn maggots feed on seeds and underground parts of germinating seedlings.
They may be found inside damaged seeds or in the soil nearby.
Identification tip: Wireworms are seed and root feeders. Search for them in the soil where
stands are spotty. They resemble mealworms and are slender, elongate, yellowish to brown with smooth, tough
They have six short legs close together near the head, and the tip of the abdomen bears a flattened plate
with a pair of short hooks.
Identification tip: Beet armyworm larvae are 1 inch (25 mm) long when fully grown. They are dull green
with wavy, light-colored stripes running down the back and a broader pale stripe along each side. They usually
have a dark spot on each side of the body above the second true leg.
False chinch bug individuals do little damage, but large migrations
can severely injure or kill young plants in a few hours. Identification
tip: False chinch bugs are about 0.12 inch (3 mm) long, narrow bodied and gray-brown. Immature bugs have inconspicuous
red markings on the body. False chinch bugs often hide under plants or clods during the heat of the day. Don't confuse
them with bigeyed bugs, which are wider with flatter heads.
Darkling beetles are usually not a problem. Identification
tip: Darkling beetle adults range from 0.12 to 0.25 inch (3-6 mm) long and are about half as wide as they are
long. They are dirty black to rusty brown in color, but this may be obscured by dust or a thin layer of soil. Larvae
similar to wireworms.