Integration of Predator Releases with Insecticidal Soap Sprays for Management of the Sugarcane Aphid

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2019: $14,913.00
Projected End Date: 03/14/2021
Grant Recipient: University of Kentucky
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Jonathan Larson
University of Kentucky


  • Agronomic: sorghum (sweet)


  • Pest Management: integrated pest management


    The sugarcane aphid is a severe pest of sweet sorghum that can lead to complete crop failure. $16-25 million of sweet sorghum is grown annually in Kentucky US. Current management practices are limited and more need to be developed to improve the sustainability of sweet sorghum. Growers who practice organic agriculture must rely on insecticidal soap for chemical control, which provides inconsistent control of aphids. We propose the integration of parasitic wasp releases with insecticidal soap spray applications for sugarcane aphid management. Parasitoid releases will give organic growers another option to manage the sugarcane aphid, buffering against the inconsistency of insecticidal soap. Parasitoids deposit their eggs inside aphids, which hatch and kill the aphid as they develop. The parasitoid species Aphidius colemani has been found attacking sugarcane aphids in Mexico, can suppress sugarcane aphid populations in the lab and can be easily purchased by growers in large quantities for releases in their crops.

    Project objectives:

    1. Assess if mass releases of Aphidius colemani can suppress sugarcane aphid populations and reduce insecticidal sprays needed
    2. Improve sweet sorghum grower's knowledge of effective sugarcane aphid management tactics
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.