A survey of threecornered alfalfa hopper, Spissistilus festinus (Say) (Hemiptera: Membracidae), damage in 60 South Carolina peanut, Arachis hypogaea L., fields showed that 89 and 58% of plants had feeding girdles during 2003 and 2004, respectively. Use of a foliar insecticide for other target pests reduced hopper damage. Hopper damage was not affected by sampling distance from the field edge; therefore, injury was adequately assessed at 10 m from field borders. In-furrow insecticide choice, planting date, soil texture, previous crop, or tillage did not measurably affect girdling. Subsequent field experiments demonstrated a cultivar effect on threecornered alfalfa hopper injury, with the standard runner-type cultivar (‘Georgia Green’) more susceptible than the standard Virginia-type (‘NC-V11′). More than 50% of stem girdling occurred on the basal quarter (first five internodes) of the plant. Most feeding occurred on secondary branches of main and lateral stems. Weekly sampling of seven grower fields showed that adult hoppers colonize peanut during June and produce two generations on peanut. Only low levels of plant girding were observed in June, but plant girdling increased gradually through late July, when girdling markedly increased contemporary with peak populations of first generation nymphs and adults. A second increase in plant girdling, observed in early September, coincided with the second generation of nymphs on peanut. Foliar treatments at 45–60 d after planting (DAP) were most effective in suppressing injury. Granular chlorpyrifos treatment also suppressed hopper injury. There was no yield response to insecticide treatments at the hopper injury levels in these tests (up to six girdles per plant). Although the economic injury level (EIL) for this pest has not been defined, our data indicate that a critical interval for monitoring hopper activity is the first 3 wk of July, before the occurrence of significant injury. Where growers have a consistent risk of economic injury, applying foliar treatment in mid-July would be most effective in suppressing damage.
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Vol. 100 • No. 4