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Management of Insect and Mite Pests in Sunflowers

Unmanaged sunflower pests can reduce yield and quality of seed and oil. Pesticides should not be used as a substitute for good agronomic practices or as “preventative insurance” because this approach can cause pest resurgence issues and is rarely economically or environmentally justifiable. Many sunflower pest problems can be avoided by developing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan that includes preventive pest management practices, such as planting high-quality, vigorous, Oklahoma-proven hybrid seed, planting it at the proper time for optimal health and yield, providing proper fertilization and weed control, and using crop rotations.

 

The information herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Cooperative Extension Service is implied. 

 

Pesticide recommendations in this publication were correct as of the “Modified Date" but always check the label that came with the purchased insecticide for the most current rates and restrictions.

 

The first name listed is the trade name of a product registered for use in corn for the listed pest. The name in (parentheses) listed below the trade name is the name of the active ingredient. The active ingredient name is provided because in many cases, there are other registered products containing the same active ingredient that may cost less, so producers should compare prices. 

 

The number [in brackets] following a product is its Mode of Action number [MOA]. The more frequently insecticides with the same MOA are used, the more likely resistance will occur. This number provides an easy way to select different modes of action to avoid selecting for pests that are resistant to a certain mode of action. 

 

Refer to the following publications for additional information on sunflower pest management.

 

 

Table 1.

Pest, Damage, and Treatment Threshold Insecticide, Formulation, [MOA Group] &
(Active Ingredient)
Rate of Product per Acre Comments
Cutworms (black, granulate, sandhill) Asana XL [3](esfenvalerate) 5.8 to 9.6 fl oz
(0.03 to 0.05 lb ai/A)
28 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
Striped or solid colored, robust caterpillars that “roll” up when disturbed and prefer to live under ground. Baythroid XL [3](beta-cyfluthrin) 0.8 to 1.6 fl oz
(0.007 to 0.013 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
Damage: Cutworms generally feed at night and live under the soil during the day. Plants will be cut at or slightly above the soil level, causing stand reductions. Besiege [28,3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole)
5.0 to 8.0 fl oz 45 waiting period for harvest. Do not use adjuvant with application. Follow drift precautions to protect pollinators.
Threshold: Scout fields at seedling emergence. Threshold is one cutworm per square foot combined with a 25% stand reduction. Treat when worms are less than ½ inch long. Delta Gold [3]
(deltamethrin)
1.0 to 1.5 fl oz
(0.012 to 0.018 lb ai/A)
21 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
  Karate w Zeon [3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin)
0.96 to 1.60 fl oz
(0.015 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Mustang MAXX EC [3]
(zeta-cypermethrin)
1.28 to 4 fl oz
(0.008 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
  Proaxis 0.5 CS [3]
(gamma-cyhalothrin)
1.92 to 3.2 fl oz
(0.0075 to 0.0125 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Sevin XLR [1A]
(carbaryl)
1.5 quarts
(1.5 lb ai/A)
30 day wait for grazing, 60 days for harvest.
  Tombstone [3]
(cyfluthrin)
0.80 to 1.60 fl oz
(0.013 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest.
       
Grasshopper Asana XL [3]
(esfenvalerate)
5.8 to 9.6 fl oz
(0.03 to 0.05 lb ai/A)
28 day waiting period for harvest for harvest; do not graze.
1-2 inches long, outer wings leathery, inner wings clear or colored. Enlarged hind legs designed for jumping. Baythroid XL [3]
(beta-cyfluthrin)
2.0 to 2.8 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.022 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest for harvest; do not graze.
Damage: Chew leaves, leaving ragged edges or completely chewing leaf blade. Damage developing seed heads, causing yield loss.  Besiege [28,3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole)
6.0-10.0 fl oz 45 waiting period for harvest. Do not use adjuvant with application. Follow drift precautions to protect pollinators.
Threshold: See EPP-7196: Grasshopper Management in Rangeland, Pastures, and Crops Delta Gold [3]
(deltamethrin)
1.0 to 1.5 fl oz
(0.012 to 0.018 lb ai/A)
21 day waiting period for harvest for harvest; do not graze.
  Karate w Zeon [3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin)
1.28 to 1.92 fl oz
(0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Mustang MAXX EC [3]
(zeta-cypermethrin)
2.6 to 4 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest for harvest; do not graze.
  Proaxis 0.5 CS [3]
(gamma-cyhalothrin)
2.56 to 3.84 fl oz
(0.01 to 0.015 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Vantacor [28] (chlorantraniliprole)  0.7 to 1.7 fl oz (0.026 to 0.065 lb ai/A)  1 day PHI
  Warrior II w Zeon [3] (lambda-cyhalothrin)  1.28 to 1.92 fl oz (0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A) 45 day waiting period for harvest
       
Foliar-feeding caterpillars (painted lady, woolly bear) Besiege [28,3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole)
6.0 to 10.0 fl oz 45 day waiting period for harvest. Do not use adjuvant with application. Follow drift precautions to protect pollinators.
Various caterpillars, painted lady and woolly bear caterpillars have hairy bodies. Karate w Zeon [3](lambda-cyhalothrin) 1.28 to 1.92 fl oz
(0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
Damage: Feed on leaves Mustang MAXX EC [3]
(zeta-cypermethrin)
1.28 to 4 fl oz
(0.008 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest Check label for species labeled rate.
Threshold: Treat when defoliation exceeds 25% and caterpillars are still present. Proaxis 0.5 CS [3]
(gamma-cyhalothrin)
2.56 to 3.84 fl oz
(0.01 to 0.015 lb ai/A)
45-day waiting period for harvest.
  Warrior II w Zeon [3] (lambda-cyhalothrin)  1.28 to 1.92 fl oz (0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A) 45 day waiting period for harvest
       
Seed weevils (Red and Gray) Asana XL [3]
(esfenvalerate)
5.8 to 9.6 fl oz
(0.03 to 0.05 lb ai/A)
28 day waiting period for harvest for harvest; do not graze.
Reddish weevil about 1/8-inch long, and grey weevil about 1/4-inch long. Larvae are white, about 1/6-inch long when mature. Baythroid XL [3]
(beta-cyfluthrin)
2.0 to 2.8 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.022 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
Damage: Larvae feed inside seed, cut exit hole when mature, and burrow into ground. Besiege [28,3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole)
6.0 to 10.0 fl oz 45 waiting period for harvest. Do not use adjuvant with application. Follow drift precautions to protect pollinators.
Threshold: Scout for red weevil when 85% of plants are past R-4 growth stage. Treat when counts exceed 10 weevils per head. Continue to scout to determine if second spray is needed. Delta Gold [3]
(deltamethrin)
1.0 to 1.5 fl oz
(0.012 to 0.018 lb ai/A)
21 day waiting period for harvest.
  Karate w Zeon [3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin)
1.28 to 1.92 fl oz
(0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Mustang MAXX EC [3]
(zeta-cypermethrin)
2.6 to 4 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest.
  Proaxis 0.5 CS [3]
(gamma-cyhalothrin)
2.56 to 3.84 fl oz
(0.01 to 0.015 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Tombstone [3]
(cyfluthrin)
2.0 to 2.8 fl oz
(0.031 to 0.044 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest.
  Warrior II w Zeon [3] (lambda-cyhalthrin) 1.28 to 1.92 fl oz (0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A) 45 day waiting period for harvest
       
Stem weevil Asana XL [3]
(esfenvalerate)
5.8 to 9.6 fl oz
(0.03 to 0.05 lb ai/A)
28-day waiting period for harvest for harvest; do not graze.
1/8 inch long, grayish-brown with varying white spots on wing covers. Adults emerge in mid-late June. Baythroid XL [3]
(beta-cyfluthrin)
1.6 to 2.4 fl oz
(0.013 to 0.019 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
Damage: Adults insert eggs in stalks. Larval feeding causes weakening of stalk, easily lodged heads. Besiege [28,3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole)
6.0 to 10.0 fl oz 45 waiting period for harvest. Do not use adjuvant with application. Follow drift precautions to protect pollinators.
Threshold: Begin scouting in mid-June. Treat when counts reach 1 weevil per three plants. In areas with history of problem, treat when plants reach 8- to 10-leaf stage if planted before June 1. Delta Gold [3]
(deltamethrin)
1.0 to 1.5 fl oz
(0.012 to 0.018 lb ai/A)
21 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
  Karate w Zeon [3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin)
1.28 to 1.92 fl oz
(0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Mustang MAXX EC [3]
(zeta-cypermethrin)
2.6 to 4 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30-day waiting period for harvest, do not graze.
  Proaxis 0.5 CS [3]
(gamma-cyhalothrin)
2.56 to 3.84 fl oz
(0.01 to 0.015 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Sevin XLR [1A]
(carbaryl)
1 to 1.5 quarts
(1 to 1.5 lb ai/A)
30 day wait for grazing, 60 days for harvest.
  Tombstone [3]
(cyfluthrin)
1.6 to 2.4 fl oz
(0.025 to 0.038 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest.
  Warrior II w Zeon [3] (lambda-cyhalothrin) 1.28 to 1.92 fl oz (0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A) 45 dat waiting period for harvest
       
Sunflower beetle Asana XL [3]
(esfenvalerate)
1.45 to 5.8 fl oz
(0.0075 to 0.03 lb ai/A)
28 day waiting period for harvest for harvest, do not graze.
Similar to Colorado potato beetle, light yellow with dark brown stripes and measures about ¾ inch long. Larvae are yellow and humpbacked. Besiege [28,3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole)
5.0 to 8.0 fl oz 45 day waiting period for harvest. Do not use adjuvant with application. Follow drift precautions to protect pollinators.
Damage: Feed on foliage, chewing holes in leaves. Delta Gold [3]
(deltamethrin)
1.0 to 1.5 fl oz
(0.012 to 0.018 lb ai/A)
21 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
Thresholds: Seedlings: One adult per plant. Larger plants: 10 to 15 larvae + 25% defoliation. Karate w Zeon [3]
(lambda cyhalothrin)
0.96 to 1.60 fl oz
(0.015 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Mustang MAXX EC [3]
(zeta-cypermethrin)
2.6 to 4 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
  Proaxis 0.5 CS [3]
(gamma-cyhalothrin)
1.92 to 3.2 fl oz
(0.0075 to 0.0125 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Sevin XLR [1A]
(carbaryl)
1 to 1.5 quarts
(1 to 1.5 lb ai/A)
30-day wait for grazing, 60 days for harvest.
  Tombstone [3]
(cyfluthrin)
0.8 to 1.6 fl oz
(0.013 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest.
  Warrior II w Zeon [3] (lambda-cyhalothrin) 1.28 to 1.92 fl oz (0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A) 45 day waiting period for harvest
       
Sunflower (Head) moth Asana XL [3]
(esfenvalerate)
5.8 to 9.6 fl oz
(0.03 to 0.05 lb ai/A)
28 day waiting period for harvest for harvest; do not graze.
Adult is small white moth, 3/8-inch long that folds wings around body when resting. Larvae are brown/purple with longitudinal white stripes. Baythroid XL [3]
(beta-cyfluthrin)
2.0 to 2.8 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.022 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
Damage: Young larvae feed on pollen and florets. Older larvae burrow into head and feed on developing seed. Larvae spin webbing on surface of flower head. Damage enables head rots to develop. Besiege [28,3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole)
6.0 to 10.0 fl oz 45 waiting period for harvest. Do not use adjuvant with application. Follow drift precautions to protect pollinators.
Threshold: Begin scouting when flowers first open and scout every few days. It is best to scout in evening with flashlight. Treat when moth numbers reach 1-2 moths per five plants at 20% bloom. Delta Gold [3]
(deltamethrin)
1.0 to 1.5 fl oz
(0.012 to 0.018 lb ai/A)
21 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
  Karate w Zeon [3]
(lambda-cyhalothrin)
1.28 to 1.92 fl oz
(0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Mustang MAXX EC [3]
(zeta-cypermethrin)
2.6 to 4 fl oz
(0.016 to 0.025 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze.
  Proaxis 0.5 CS [3]
(gamma-cyhalothrin)
2.56 to 3.84 fl oz
(0.01 to 0.015 lb ai/A)
45 day waiting period for harvest.
  Sevin XLR [1A]
(carbaryl)
1.5 quarts
(1.5 lb ai/A)
30 day waiting period for harvest; do not graze
  Tombstone [3]
(cyfluthrin)
2.0 to 2.8 fl oz
(0.031 to 0.044 lb ai/A)
30-day waiting period for harvest.
  Vantacor [28] (chlorantramiliprole) 1.28 to 1.92 fl oz (0.02 to 0.03 lb ai/A) 45 day waiting period for harvest

Table 2.

Pre-harvest Intervals  
Azadirachtin (neem)  0-day PHI for harvest 
Bacillus thuringiensis  0-day PHI for harvest 
Besiege 21-day PHI 
Brigade  35-day PHI for harvest
Carbine  7-day PHI for harvest 
Delta Gold 7-day PHI for harvest 
DyndaShield  Harvested seed can only be used for industrial purposes, not for edible oil
Exirel  7-day PHI for harvest 
Fortenza  Wait 30 days before applying a foliar application of cyantraniliprole or other group 28 product 
Vantacor  1-day PHI for harvest 

 * MOA group numbers in brackets [#] following the insecticide name are used to designate the mode of action of the insecticide according to the classification system developed by the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) in 2011 It is intended to help in the selection of insecticides for preventative resistance management. If you make multiple applications for a specific pest during a growing season, simply select a registered insecticide with a different number for each application. To further delay resistance from developing, integrate other control methods into your pest management programs. 

 

** The first name listed is a commercial trade name of a product. The chemical name in parentheses refers to the name of the active ingredient and is included because there are a number of registered products that are contain the same active ingredient. Such products may be less expensive to purchase, so producers should compare prices. 

 

Tom A. Royer
Extension Entomologist

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