South Carolina Soybeans: Worms Demanding Attention

Jonathan Croft, county agent in Orangeburg County, reported that he has “been seeing increasing numbers of worms. It is a mix of soybean loopers, green cloverworms and even a couple of velvetbean caterpillars.

“Numbers have been right at threshold. I am also hearing the same thing from some fellows that have been scouting beans in the area as well. It looks like we will have some beans sprayed this weekend or first of next week for worms. Also came across a few borers today in one area of a soybean field outside of Orangeburg.”

There are many soybean loopers (SBL) this week. Some green cloverworms (GCW) are in the mix, and podworms can also be found in blooming soybeans or those putting on pods. I saw the looper moths out and about last week, and they are here this week as larvae.

The issue is likely to be more widespread shortly, so go scout your soybeans. Be able to identify the species, as you need something other than a pyrethroid for SBL.

Look through our Pest Management Handbook for options. Small GCW and SBL caterpillars can look very similar until you look closely and count the pairs of abdominal prolegs. Continue to use the guide shown here to hone your skills at identifying moths and larvae for the major species you will see in soybeans.

Remember, your choice of insecticide depends on proper identification of species. Use this pictorial key to help with those identifications.


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