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Welcome to another series of insect scouting reports and pest alerts based on information generated from pheromone trap catches, producer calls, and crop scouting over the past week. Peanut and vegetable producers are encouraged to call the extension agent or this author (251-331-8416) for immediate assistance. The Alabama Peanut IPM and Vegetable IPM websites provide you 24/7 access to IPM publications and training videos.
DISCLAIMER: Information from pheromone traps is only an advanced warning that does not substitute direct crop scouting. Since pest populations are greatly affected by local climatic conditions, please check the USDA Drought Monitor regularly and find the condition in your county. Click http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?AL for details.
Beet armyworm (BAW)
General description: 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. Eggs are laid in clusters at the underside of leaves.
Current recommendation: In general, the weather patterns this year have had a great impact on majority of moths. Steady or heavy rainfall mixed with fluctuating temperatures seem to have slowed the movement of the moths. Unfortunately, current weather conditions can also prolong the activity period of moths resulting in delayed outbreaks. BAW is the first moth that becomes active early in the season on crops and we have seen a sudden intense migration of these moths into peanut and vegetable fields in South and Central Alabama. Typically, areas in the Tennessee Valley show a steady increase (unlike a big jump) in BAW activity as shown in the image below. Pheromone traps in Headland and Anniston had the highest average catches. Look for the egg masses under the terminal or tender leaves.
Fall armyworm (FAW)
General description: FAW has 4 generations in the south – migrating upward from FL and populations get worse mid- to-late-season on specialty crops/row crops. FAW prefer to feed on grasses first then move to various other crops. Eggs are laid in small clusters and appear fuzzy as they are covered with scales.
Current recommendation: We are seeing a slow rise in the moth activity across the state with no specific sign of intense activity. When the rains quit and it begins to dry out, expect a heavy migration of moths in July. For management of FAWs in pastures and hayfields, please refer to the bulletin ANR-1019 by Dr. Kathy Flanders. Click on the image below for full screen view.
Cabbage looper (CL)
General description: This is a highly migratory insect with 3 to 6 generations per year depending on location. Adult moths are known to overwinter in Florida and probably in southern parts of Alabama. Host plants include a variety of crucifer crops along with sweet potatoes, beans, peas, squash, tomato, and watermelons. Although not seen in high numbers every year, vegetable and peanut producers may occasionally see a high infestation levels.
Current recommendation: We are not seeing any intense migration of CL moths to vegetables and peanuts, but that usually happens in late July and August. Dry weather may change the situation quickly, and producers may find CL in mixed population with other pests.
Soybean looper (SL)
General description: SL overwinters in the southeastern U.S. Infestations appear to be initiated by moths moved by weather systems. One generation is completed in less than a month; 4 to 6 generations may be found in Alabama. SL attack soybean and peanuts among other row crops. Also attacks many summer vegetable crops during late season.
Current recommendation: SL moth activity usually lingers behind CL. SL becomes a major pest after several generations have occurred on a crop. Click on the image below for full screen view.
Corn earworm (CEW)
General description: Has about 5-6 generations and is highly dispersive across the south. Each generation may be completed within 30 days. Corn, tomato and cotton appear to be favorite crops among numerous others.
Current recommendation: Areas in South Alabama appear to be the hot spot for CEW activity right now. Peak moth activity is generally seen in August.
Tobacco budworm (TBW)
General description: Has 4-5 generations in the south. Host crops include cotton, soybean, and peanuts among others. May attack vegetables as pea, pepper, pigeon pea, squash, and tomato. These insects are difficult to kill with synthetic pyrethroids – so identify caterpillars correctly before spraying crops!
Current recommendation: We have detected TBW at fewer than 25 percent trapping locations. Typically, we see them at over 50 percent location by the end of July after the rains. Click on the image below for full screen view.
Lesser cornstalk borer (LCB)
General description: LCB prefers various legumes (including peanuts and soybeans) and grassy crops as host plants. In peanuts, LCB damage can cause rapid yield loss along with severe crop contamination. 4 to 5 generations of LCB may occur each year.
Current recommendation: There is intense activity of LCB moths all over the state, but caterpillar numbers in the soil could vary by location. LCB is a soil pest that likes dry weather and sandy soils. For the LSB risk index in peanuts, check out the AWIS Weather Services.
Squash vine borer (SVB)
General description: Has two to three generation per year depending on location. Moths are day flying and they can migrate long distances during early spring to find host plants that include squash and pumpkin.
Current recommendation: Typically, SVB activity is high on organic farms or farms with continuous squash production. Moths have been detected at 4-5 locations indicating a slow rise in the level of activity this year. Caterpillars are nearly impossible to kill once they burrow inside the plant stalk, so vegetable producers/organic gardeners should use pest prevention tactics. Click on the image below for full screen view.
Image sources in this article: BugWood.org, University of Florida, Iowa State University, and the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
Ayanava Majumdar, Extension Entomologist, ACES
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