South Carolina: Soybean Loopers on the Rise – Identification and Management

Soybean looper in Okaloosa County (photo by Jennifer Bearden)

More loopers are showing up in the sweep nets.  We’re getting in to the time of year when we really need to keep an eye on them.  Make sure you or your scout can tell the difference between a soybean looper and a cloverworm.  Both move with a “looping” motion and can be the similar in color, so pay attention to the number of abdominal prolegs.


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Correctly identifying is important because treatment options differ greatly.  We have a hard time killing loopers with pyrethroids, so more expensive materials are needed.  Cloverworms rarely cause significant damage on their own and can be controlled with low levels of pyrethroids.  Misidentifying cloverworms for loopers will cost a grower money for a treatment they may not have really needed.


Soybean looper with 2 pairs of abdominal prolegs.


Green cloverworm with 3 pairs of abdominal prolegs.

Make sure to scout every field on a regular basis.  Failing to do so could cost you money as well.  The photo below is a good example of what could happen in a field that is not scouted regularly.


When making treatment decisions, use the thresholds in the tables below.  In order to make the most of your money, identify pests correctly and don’t spray until you’re at the thresholds.  For insects not specifically mentioned in the tables, use the 15% foliage loss threshold.

Sweep thresholds

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Beat Thresholds

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We have a lot of good yield potential out there right now.  It’s easy to let the hot weather and high humidity keep us out of the fields, but now is an important time to know whats going on in every field.

For more info on insect control in soybeans, take a look at the 2017 SC Pest Management Handbook.

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