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Heads Up! Pest Alerts


by Doug Johnson
Extension Entomologist

In southwestern Kentucky we have experienced yet another unusual field crop pest. This time it is the Sugarcane beetle on field corn. Although this insect has been reported from Kentucky before, it is an unusual and uncommon pest for us. Why has it shown up this year? Well, your guess is as good as mine. My colleagues in Tennessee report that they have been having trouble with this beetle for the past two years.

Before you get too carried away, this a single report from a single field. This is not (as least as far as we know) an out break. However, given that Tennessee has been having significant problems it bears a fair warning. Here is what we know about our find.

CROP: Field Corn - Other corn types may also be attacked.

PEST: Sugarcane beetle, Euetheola humilis rugiceps (LeCont), Coleoptera:Scarabaeidae

LOCATION: Christian Co. KY near the Trigg Co. Line. (This producer also farms in TN.)

DAMAGE: Missing and wilted plants. Upon examination you see ragged feeding and some to many plants with "big chunks" eaten out of the side of the stem just below ground level. You will find a black beetle doing the damage. Warning - there are also ground beetles, (predatory beetles) present. These are more elongate and flat beetles. See Entfact-104, Ground Beetles .

DESCRIPTION: The beetle is black, about 1/2inch to 5/8inch long with ribs along the wing covers. The front legs are strong and adapted for digging. Larva are "white grubs" up to 1 1/4inch long. In this case it is the BEETLE not the grub that is the problem. The beetle will have the general shape of Japanese beetle or green June beetle.


1.) Wrong diagnosis. - I hope so, but not likely as I have seen the beetles, compared them to a standard provided by Dr. Russ Patrick from UT, as well as photos and drawings. Samples have been sent to the state collection.

2.) Isolated incident. - Maybe. The farmer also farms in TN he could have moved the beast, but before you point any fingers, it could just as easily be our series of warm winters that have allowed northward movement and/or greater winter survival.

3.) Widespread but as yet unnoticed. I hope not but this is why I am trying to get the word out.

For now listed below are a couple of fact sheets from TN and NC on the web. I am sure there are others. With these you can get some idea of the nature of this pest, what it looks like and what type of damage it does from these pages.

--excerpted from KENTUCKY PEST NEWS Number 987 May 27, 2003

Previous Pest Alerts


Kentucky IPM

Original document: 27 May 2003
Last updated: 30 May 2003

Scoutcat logo courtesy of C. Ware, copyright 2000

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