By: Dr. M.O. Way, Prof. of Entomology, Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Ctr.
Well, the Texas Rice Belt survived Hurricane Hannah, but rain from the storm came at an inopportune time. Texas rice farmers are in the middle of cutting their crop, so now many fields are muddy, but farmers need to continue cutting rice which ruts up fields for the ratoon crop. However, preliminary yield estimates look very good, so far.
Just want to briefly talk about an insect farmers commonly ask me about. Usually, farmers see the egg mass of this insect which is harmless to rice but can be painful to humans! The insect is a deer fly (Order Diptera: Family Tabanidae). The eggs are laid in a mass (like shingles on a roof) on rice foliage, usually near the tip of a leaf. The eggs hatch and the larvae drop into the water where they feed on detritus and small aquatic invertebrates…noton rice plants. They can be easily confused with stem borer egg masses, but deer fly egg masses are very dark and the individual eggs are spindle shaped and narrow. Once the aquatic larvae pupate and emerge as adults, the females seek a blood meal to produce eggs. We all know deer and horse flies have painful bites using mouthparts that slice your skin causing blood to ooze out of the wounds. They then lap up the blood. The males feed on pollen.
So, if you see these egg masses, squash ‘em!