Alabama Peanuts: Lots of Thrips, Other Pests on the Rise

Many sucking insect pests attack peanuts grown across the southeast. Untreated research plots in Alabama showed a high number of thrips; feeding and leaf distortion was more severe on the field borders than plot middles.

The same can be expected in commercial fields where the field borders show leaf deformation from thrips as the insects start migration and establishment. Western flower and tobacco thrips were present in the research plots with dominance of tobacco thrips on the leaf terminals.

If you detect severe leaf injury due to thrips, then it is time to take action as follows. Watch this short webinar on thrips control.

Control recommendation for managing thrips:

  • Think prevention – use spotted wilt virus resistant varieties as the first line of defense.
  • Control weeds in and around the field.
  • Weather and plant health affect risk to the crop – recovery from thrips feeding is usually faster for healthy plants reducing the need for foliar insecticide treatments.
  • Seed treatments tested in the past have not worked very well. So, at-planting treatments are still important.
  • At-planting in furrow treatments: Phorate (Thimet), imidacloprid (Admire or Velum Total)
  • If you are experiencing high thrips pressure, then one to two applications of foliar insecticides may be adequate as rescue treatments. Choices include spinetoram (Radiant), acephate (Orthene), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Karate). Remember that thrips control will become difficult insects hiding inside the peanut flowers.
  • Do not overspray your fields – scout after every application to know the effectiveness of your treatment. Spray second time only if needed not only to reduce cost but also to protect the natural enemies that are just getting established in the field.

Herbicide Resistance Info

Watch for these additional insect pests (based on insect pheromone trap catches):

  • We have detected a spike in lesser cornstalk borer moth numbers in the past two weeks, ranging from 6 to 66 moths at various locations in South AL. Probably the prevailing dry weather was favorable to insect activity that will continue to rise across the peanut-production areas. Each female moth can lay 200-400 eggs.
  • We have noticed a slight increase in the tobacco budworm activity and detected moths at 2 out of 8 locations being monitored so far. Each female moth can lay 300-500 eggs.  ​
  • Beet and fall armyworm numbers are rising slowly in row crops, right now they are about 1-4 moths per trap depending on the location. Armyworms are active in hay fields and will migrate to other crops as season progresses. Each beet armyworm moth can lay 300-600 eggs.​
  • Below is the peanut insect pest scouting calendar for your perusal. For any further questions about peanut insect pests and beneficial insects, call Dr. A at 251-331-8416 or email

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