Insect Management

Chickpea leaves, stems, and pods are hairy and secrete malic acid. This makes the plant much less attractive to insects compared to other pulse crops.

Cutworms: Cutworms can cause damage to newly emerged chickpea seedlings, and at times may require insecticide application. Below-ground feeding cutworms (pale western and red-backed) cut plants off at or near the soil surface while above-ground feeders (dingy and army) consume the plant foliage. The economic threshold is one cutworm per metre of row in the top 7.5 cm (three inches) of soil, when the larvae are still small (less than two cm or .79 inches long). Scouting for cutworms is often more successful in the evening when the cutworms come out of hiding to feed.

Grasshoppers: Grasshoppers rarely cause damage to chickpeas and tend to feed on chickpeas only when other food sources are low or absent. Only in years with heavy infestations is enough damage caused to warrant an insecticide application. If damage does occur it is usually only at the very early crop stage, and most likely along ditches and road allowances. Weeds within the crop are often the more preferred food source.

Wireworms are the immature stage or larvae of click beetles. Wireworms tend to be more abundant in moist soils and in the lower, more moist areas of a field. Although wireworms prefer grassy plants (cereal crops), wireworm damage has been noted in chickpeas. Wireworms tend to shred the plant tissue below the soil surface with wilting of main central leaves as an initial symptom. Controlling wireworm requires the use of an insecticidal seed treatment.

Alfalfa looper is a rare pest in chickpeas but occasional damage has occurred, especially when a chickpea field is grown near alfalfa. Moths are blown in from the United States in the early summer, but can also stay over the winter in the soil as pupae, or in crop residue near the base of host plants. The adult moths are present through the growing season because generations overlap. There are two to three generations per year with the larvae of the second generation causing the most severe damage. Damage to chickpea fields is sporadic. When significant damage occurs, yield losses can be up to 20 per cent. Vigorous growing older plants are better able to withstand damage. No insecticide treatment is registered for use on chickpeas. Other insecticides registered in chickpeas may control alfalfa looper. The economic threshold for alfalfa loopers in chickpeas is when damage occurs through defoliation and clipping of flowers and immature seed pods. No economic threshold has been established for chickpeas, however, in other crops, more than 15 larvae/m2 (1.4 larvae/ft2), combined with heavy defoliation or flower and pod clipping, may warrant control.

Pea leaf weevil will feed on chickpeas but is not considered a pest of concern since it does not maximize reproduction on chickpeas. Occasional monitoring to look for the characteristic U-shaped notches on seedlings in early spring is advised.