Brooks County Ag Connection

May Beetles in Pecans

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During the past two weeks, I have had the experience of learning about a new predator in pecans.  I have been visiting  with a family that has young 2014 planted pecans.  This family’s discovery of a mysterious foliage feeder, has proven to be an opportunity, to educate myself and possibly others about the feeding habits and damaging effects of the May Beetle.  The adult May Beetle will feed on a variety of broadleaf trees and shrubs but this season has taken advantage of new orchards.  The May Beetle problem has primarily been in new orchards that are established in previous pasture or pine tree land.  I want to share this information to make other pecan producers, especially those of young pecan trees, aware of how to scout and treat May Beetle infestations.  The adult May Beetle spends the daytime hours burrowed into the soil and only emerges at night to begin feeding on pecan foliage.  So, unless you scout your orchards during the nighttime hours you will be unable to see the May Beetle feeding.  However, the following day there will be obvious foliage and/or bud damage from the May Beetle’s visit.  Also, it is not possible to identify the presence of May Beetles by scouting for ground entry/exit holes in and around the tree.  The May Beetle’s mouth parts are designed for chewing and they can devour and  produce extensive pecan damage in a very short period of time.  Dr. Lenny Wells, UGA Pecan Specialist recommends spraying with Chloropyrifos (Lorsban) for control and eradication.  The Chloropyrifos should be applied to the pecan foliage as well as the herbicide strip.  It may be necessary, depending on the May Beetle population size, to apply more than one application of Chloropyrifos for acceptable control.