Cotton Aphid Fungus Sampling Service HOME
This service is funded by Cotton Incorporated and the University of Arkansas Experiment Station.  The aim of the service is to help cotton growers reduce input costs by reducing applications of insecticide for aphid control when the fungus is active.  This is a brief overview of the service.
Aphids are a regular pest of many cotton fields.  Chemical control of aphids is expensive, reduces beneficial predators and parasitoids, and may fail due to aphid resistance, poor coverage, and resurgence.  Therefore, anything that can help growers save a chemical application for aphids is valuable.

In 1990 we identified the fungus that rapidly reduced cotton aphid populations to low levels in Arkansas and other southern states.  Research indicated that we could accurately diagnose the percentage of infected aphids in cotton fields and predict when aphid populations would crash due to the fungus.  Based on this information we started the Cotton Aphid Fungus Sampling Service in 1993 with the cooperation of Extension and IPM specialists in several states.

The service operates as follows:  Aphid sampling kits are mailed to cooperators in May. The cooperator may be a grower, a consultant, an extension agent or researcher. The service costs nothing to the cooperator.  When cotton aphid-infested fields are encountered, the cooperator collects aphids and sends them back to our laboratory via FedEx.
Preparing aphid samples for diagnosis in the lab.
aphid squash Fifty cotton aphids are randomly selected from each sample and  squashed in  lactophenol under cover slips for diagnosing at 200x  on a
phase-contrast microscope.
In the laboratory the aphids are prepared and diagnosed under a microscope. As soon as possible (usually within 24 hours) the results are faxed back to the cooperator and also posted on our website on the internet.  When results indicate that 15% of aphids sampled in a field are infected with the fungus, it is likely that the aphids will decline soon due to the fungus. When 30-90% of the aphids are infected with the fungus, the aphid population will decline.  In both of these cases the grower can usually save money by not applying a chemical for aphid control.

Therefore the service provides decision makers with additional information that may help avoid unneeded and expensive applications for insecticides.

We hope that you will consider this your service and provide us with many samples and comments that increase its usefulness to you.