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Commercial Horticulture > Comm Hort Blog > Posts > Pheromone trap catches for major insect pests (peanut and vegetable crops) – September 8, 2015

Beet armyworms (BAW):  Has 5-6 generations in the south. Host plants include bean, corn, cowpea, eggplant, pea, pepper, potato, tomato, and many other vegetables. Field crops may include corn, cotton, peanut, sorghum, and soybean.

Distribution map of beet armyworm 
BAW activity update:  BAW moth activity has been extremely high this year – we may be experiencing the fourth or fifth generation of these moths. Recently, moth numbers have doubled over the past four weeks and caterpillars very actively feeding in various crops. BAW moth numbers have been very high in central and south AL which is different than FAW moth activity.


Fall armyworm (FAW):  Has 4-5 generations in the south – migrates upward from FL and populations get worse mid- to-late-season on specialty or row crops. Prefers to feed on grasses then move to various row crops and vegetables that include fruiting crops.

Statewide distribution map of fall armyworm 
FAW activity update: FAW moth activity continues to rise rapidly – moth numbers in trap have tripled in the past four weeks (third or fourth generation of moths migrating to crops). Migration of the pest to crop fields appears stronger in north AL compared to monitored locations in south AL. Hay and livestock producers should visit this website for updates about armyworms posted by Dr. Kathy Flanders. 

Below are graphs showing seasonal population fluctuation of the two species.

Season activity of beet and fall armyworm

Soybean looper (SL): Infestations happen from migrating populations or moths may be moved by weather systems. SL attack soybean and peanuts among other row crops. Also attacks many summer vegetable crops during late season.

Statewide distribution map of soybean looper 
SL activity update:  Activity has risen to three times over the past four weeks – there should be plenty of caterpillars in peanut, soybean, and late-planted vegetable fields (possible the second or third generation of insects depending on location). Most increase was seen in the northern AL locations followed by central and southeastern AL.


Cabbage loopers (CL):  We have a few locations across AL where we are monitoring this highly migratory insect. Adult moths are known to overwinter in south Florida. Host plants include a variety of crucifer crops along with sweet potatoes, beans, peas, squash, tomato, and watermelons. 

Statewide distribution of cabbage looper 

CL activity update: Moth activity has increased two times over the past four weeks – so population pressure has risen slowly with overlapping generations of caterpillars feeding on crops now. In peanut fields in south Alabama, we have seen mixed populations of CL and SL caterpillars along with velvetbean caterpillars causing rapid defoliation in untreated fields.

Below are graphs showing seasonal population fluctuation of the two species.

Seasonal distribution of soybean and cabbage looper 
Corn earworm (CEW):  Also known as the tomato fruitworm. It has about 5-7 generations in the south. Corn, tomato and cotton appear to be favorite crops among numerous others row and horticultural plants that may also be attacked. In Alabama, peak CEW activity usually happens in late July and August – so remain alert for CEW and tobacco budworm mixed populations. Tomatoes are a favored host for CEW moths to lay eggs if corn is unavailable – so vegetable producers should watch out and scout intensively to detect this pest at the earliest!

Statewide distribution of corn earworm 
CEW activity update:  Moth activity has increased three times over the past four weeks – we may be experiencing the third or fourth generation in the field right now. Highest moth numbers have been noted from north and south AL with gradual increase in moth numbers during this late crop development stages (unlike other years when we see rapid rise in activity in mid-season). Direct crop scouting in vegetable and peanut fields has revealed more CEW caterpillars in recent weeks.

Tobacco budworm (TBW):   Has about 5 generations in the south. Host crops include cotton, soybean, and peanuts among others. May also attack vegetables as pea, pepper, pigeon pea, squash, and tomato.

Statewide distribution of tobacco budworm moth 
TBW activity update: Moth activity has been low at most locations – we have only detected low peak activity periods followed by long absence of any moths in pheromone traps. Moths have been detected at 50% locations with highest moth numbers in Cullman and Lee Counties.   

Below are graphs showing seasonal population fluctuation of the two species.

Seasonal activity of corn earm and tobacco budworm moths 
Lesser cornstalk borer (LCB):  3-4 generations may occur. Prefers various legume (including peanuts and soybeans) and grassy crops. In peanuts, LCB damage can cause rapid yield loss along with severe crop contamination during hot dry weather conditions. This insect can also devastate large acres of soybean fields under favorable conditions.

Statewide distribution of lesser cornstalk borer 

LCB activity update: LCB is a ‘hidden enemy’ that has been detected in very high numbers across the state – several overlapping generations cause large buildup of this insect. The southeastern and southwestern regions of the state have very high moth activity (possibly in the fourth or fifth generation) – drought can rapidly increase larval activity in the soil. So far we have collected and removed over 5,000 LCB moths – the most of any insect we have monitored this summer. Escambia, Henry, and Lee Counties appear have the highest moth numbers. Peanut producers should remain alert and refer to the US drought map (see below). Producers must directly scout crops to detect infestations.

Seasonal activity of lesser cornstalk borer

Squash vine borer (SVB):  Has one to two generation per year depending on location. Moths are day-flying and they can migrate long distances during early spring to find host plants. Moths look like wasps and lay eggs on the stem close to the soil. Caterpillars cannot be killed once they burrow inside the plant stalk, so use pest prevention tactics. Vines must be protected using insecticides or with insect netting to reduce egg laying.

Statewide distribution of squash vine borer

SVB activity update:  We are continuing to monitor this insect in order to record season-long activity and life cycle fluctuations. We have detected at least two to three generations of this insect with peaks in late July (1) and August (2). Moth numbers are highest in central AL (Clanton) with similar numbers in north and south AL (e.g., Cullman and Brewton). Producers must destroy squash vines and bury the trash to prevent buildup of caterpillars in the soil.

Seasonal activity of squash vine borer

U.S. Drought Monitor: Click here for latest drought map and detailed report -

USDA drought map for September 8, 2015 
Acknowledgement:  The data visualization maps above have been developed using (Spensa Technologies, IN). We appreciate the assistance provided by Regional Extension Agents and producers for data collection/pest monitoring. Thanks to Luke Knight and Lucinda Daughtry (Undergraduate Project Assistants) for assistance in the insect monitoring project.


For peanut or vegetable IPM questions, please call Ayanava Majumdar, 251-331-8416, or use the resources below.

Vegetable IPM:

Peanut IPM:

Facebook pages:  Alabama Vegetable IPM or Alabama Peanut IPM 

Subscribe to the Alabama IPM Communicator newsletter, visit


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