Alabama Peanuts: Making Pest Decisions In Late Fields

    Although many crops are close to harvest and treating those crops may not make sense, the drought conditions in the eastern half of the state have worsened in recent weeks which is very favorable for insect pests (both chewing and sucking insects).

    Plenty of peanuts remain in the ground, and those close to maturity should be harvested when ready. If you are in a situation with very high caterpillar counts in the field, then peanuts may be treated with a low-cost synthetic pyrethroid, considering the fact that it takes spider mites to flare up about 10-14 days after chemical applications.

    If you are over a month away from peanut harvest, don’t risk a pyrethroid treatment. For late-plated peanuts, there are other caterpillar control materials (like insect growth regulators, spinetoram etc.) that we can safely use under this dry environment.

    Beets, Falls And Loopers On The Upswing

    Overall moth captures from sticky wing pheromone traps are shown in the accompanying table (see below). Insects showing the largest increase in terms of number and percent change include beet armyworm, fall armyworm, and soybean looper.

    Excessive dry conditions are also very favorable for lesser cornstalk borer (LCB) – a major pest in peanuts that can cause reduced yield and quality. Any treatment for LCB larvae late in the season causes more harm than good, specially under this dry weather.

    Although we do not monitor velvetbean caterpillar moths using sticky traps, we are seeing high moth activity and caterpillars in peanut fields in Southeast Alabama, along with significant numbers of loopers that make the peanut plants look grazed.

    Most caterpillars may feed on the stem terminals and not threaten the whole plant with defoliation. Lack of treatment for caterpillars may make the harvesting unsightly and problematic for some peanut growers, so plan ahead.

    Armyworm larvae should be abundant around this time of year, often mixed with cabbage loopers and fruitworms.

    Additional details about pest monitoring and scouting can be found on the Integrated Pest Management page of the Alabama Extension website.

    A Word About Hemp

    We added a few insect pest species like the yellowstriped armyworm, southern armyworm, and European corn borer traps late in the season upon request from hemp producers in Alabama. So, the moth numbers in the table are preliminary and do not indicate season-long moth activity.

    If hemp producers are having fire ant and other caterpillar issues, then check out the hemp IPM blog for a full list of approved products. For a deeper conversation about hemp IPM in Alabama, please contact Dr. Katelyn Kesheimer in Alabama Extension.

    Click table to enlarge.

    • Ayanava Majumdar, Extension Entomologist, Alabama Extension
    • (251) 331-8416,

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