New pest identified by New Mexico State University

Feb 02, 2015

Sipha maydis as it’s known, can pose a threat to growers

By Diego Flammini,

A scientist from New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center identified a new pest that can pose a threat to growers of corn, wheat, barley, sorghum and oats.

Tess Grasswitz, an entomologist with NMSU, discovered New Mexico’s first case of sipha maydis, a pear-shaped insect that will appear dark brown or nearly black in color. She made the discovery last fall at an urban farm located in Albuquerque’s South Valley, which is located near central Bernalillo County with the Rio Grande running through it.

Sipha maydis is mostly found across Europe, Asia, parts of Africa and the Middle East, but between 2007 and 2012, it’s been found on in the United States in Georgia, Florida and California.

The bug is known to be found on crops that are being shipped worldwide as well as non-host plants such as lettuce.

“We don’t know if it has dispersed or how widespread in New Mexico it is at this point,” said Grasswitz, who is based at NMSU’s Agricultural Science Center in Los Lunas in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal. “We don’t know how big a problem it will be. This is an alert for the growers.”

When sipha maydis infects a plant, there will be a rolling, yellowing, desiccation (extreme dryness) in the leaves. If this occurs, it can affect farmer’s yields for their crops.

It is also known to bring with it barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), which NMSU describes as one of the deadliest infections to small grains and the crops.

In 2013, New Mexico’s corn production value was over $37 million, their wheat over $23 million and their sorghum over $10 million.