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This report is based on sticky wing pheromone trap catches and direct crop scouting, along with input from producer calls. Peanut and vegetable producers are encouraged to call the appropriate regional 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 influenced by local climatic conditions, please check the USDA Drought Monitor website regularly and find the condition in your county.
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 covered with fuzzy scales.
Current recommendation: Please refer to the graphs above for trends across different pest species. Moth numbers have increased nearly five-fold on average indicating strong activity. We have found eggs masses on specialty crops. Look for greenish eggs covered with fuzzy scales under the leaves near the stem terminals.
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 clusters and appear fuzzy (covered with scales).
Current recommendation: We have started to detect FAW moth migration to row crops and specialty crops, but this is not the peak. Peak activity is expected in the later part of July or August, depending on the weather. Crops close to hay/pasture fields can expect intensive migration of egg laying moths. For management of FAWs in pastures and hayfields, please refer to the bulletin ANR-1019 by Dr. Kathy Flanders.
Cabbage looper (CL)
General description: CL 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. Round eggs are deposited singly on foliage. Caterpillars pupate in soil.
Current recommendation: Moth activity has increased five-fold statewide indicating a strong chance that producers will encounter caterpillars frequently in the coming days and weeks. Several overlapping generations of caterpillars will cause extensive defoliation and fruit damage seen in the form of small round holes.
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 the late season. Round eggs are deposited singly on the underside of leaves. Caterpillars pupate on the foliage.
Current recommendation: SL moth activity is slower than CL activity, but SL activity has definitely increased. SL caterpillars have darker thoracic legs behind the head; they walk with a looping motion.
Corn earworm (CEW)
General description: Has about 5-6 generations and is highly dispersive across the southern region. Each generation may be completed within 30 days. Corn, tomato and cotton appear to be favorite crops among numerous other crops. Round eggs are deposited singly on foliage or near fruits.
Current recommendation: Moth activity was slow during the end of June but has picked up in July, after the rainfall stopped. Typically, areas in South Alabama have very intense moth activity especially near row crops like cotton and soybean (before moving on to peanuts). Caterpillars have been found on tomatoes causing round holes near the top of the fruit. The larva often feeds with its head buried in the fruit.
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 pyrethroid insecticides – so identify caterpillars correctly before making treatment decision.
Current recommendation: We have detected TBW at fewer than 25 percent trapping locations – moth intensity has only increased slightly on peanuts in the south. Producers can expect numbers to go high, especially on the row crops.
Lesser cornstalk borer (LCB)
General description: LCB is a soil pest that likes dry weather and sandy soils. This pest prefers various legume crops (including peanuts and soybeans). In peanuts, LCB damage can cause rapid yield loss along with severe webbing and crop contamination. Eggs are deposited on the soil close to host plants. 4 to 5 generations of LCB may occur each year.
Current recommendation: Recent rainfall across the state in June has slowed moth activity. Dry weather this week has increased moth activity slightly. Overall, the moth numbers are still very high statewide and some peanut producers are having LCB issues to deal with. Contact insecticides can help reduce caterpillars that come out of the silken webbing but proper placement of the insecticide is critical for best action. For the LSB risk index in peanuts, check out the AWIS Weather Services.
Squash vine borer (SVB)
General description: SVB appears to have two to three generation per year in Alabama, depending on the location. Moths are day flying (look and behave like a wasp) and they can migrate long distances during early spring to find host plants. Host plants include squash and pumpkin. Brown eggs are deposited singly near the plant base. Larva or pupa overwinter in the soil.
Current recommendation: SVB moth activity reduced significantly during the rains in June, and chances are they will increase dramatically in the coming weeks. Some commercial farms have had over 17 moths per week, which is an indicator of intense activity. Prevention is better that cure for this insect. Pest exclusion is a great strategy for high tunnel producers and backyard gardeners.
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