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beet army worm

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System Vegetable IPM program conducts the statewide insect monitoring program as a special service to specialty crop producers and other farmers. The pest alerts are based on moth counts from sticky wing traps. However, there is no shortcut to direct crop scouting to look for caterpillars and other insects. All producers should monitor insects, keep good records, and develop their own IPM plan suitable for their farm.

The following are the updated moth counts as of May 14 from sticky wing pheromone traps taken from eight locations.

  • Beet armyworm = 17  (previous report = 3)
  • Fall armyworm = 82  (previous report = 20)
  • Southern armyworm = 40  (previous report = 11)
  • Yellow-striped armyworm = 2  (previous report = 0)
  • Cabbage looper = 2  (previous report = 0)
  • Soybean looper = 1  (previous report = 0)
  • Corn earworm = 80  (previous report = 0)
  • Tobacco budworm = 5  (previous report = 0)
  • Lesser cornstalk borer (indicator of dry soil conditions) = 140  (previous report = 3)
  • Squash vine borer (major vegetable pest) =  120  (previous report = 7)

Pest Alerts

  • Fall armyworm continue their strong migration into crops in central Alabama, ahead of the beet armyworms. Recent storms may have helped the armyworms move up faster and infest crops earlier.
  • Southern armyworm moth activity is high across south and central Alabama and ahead of the yellow-striped armyworm.
  • Lesser cornstalk borer numbers are increasing also indicating regional dry soil conditions.
  • Squash vine borer moth activity is high across Alabama. Moths should be laying eggs at the bottom of the plants at this point.
  • Major increase in corn earworm activity in north Alabama locations. Tobacco budworm moth activity is low.
  • No significant rise in soybean or cabbage looper moth activity.
  • Based on social media posts and queries in general, there is a rapid increase in potato aphids on tomatoes. Cabbage aphids are also plenty on late-planted brassicas.

The Alabama drought monitor map from USDA does not show any county as abnormally dry after the recent storms and plenty of rain events. Dry soil and drought conditions in coming weeks will increase pest activity, so scout crops weekly. Moth activity usually follows with caterpillar pressure within 10 to 14 days

Scout your crops closely for caterpillars and other insects (like aphids, leaffooted bugs and stink bugs) as multiple overlapping generations may be feeding on various crops. Download the Farming Basics mobile app to lookup the pictures of caterpillars and sucking insects that routinely invade crops. You can also use the app to contact a regional Extension agent or to search IPM videos in the playlist.

IPM Resources

Refer to the 2021 Southeastern Vegetable Production Handbook, Home Garden Vegetable Insecticide Guide, the Organic Vegetable IPM Slide Chart, or the Urban Farm IPM Slide Chart for insecticide choices related to specialty crops.

Video Resources


Special thanks to Rudy Yates, Olivia Fuller, David Lawrence, Jacob Kelley, Chip East, and Eric Schavey for contributing data from multiple locations. Supported by funds from the USDA-NIFA BFRD (Phases 1 & 2), SARE Research & Education/PDP, CPPM/EIP, OREI, and ADAI Specialty Crops Block Grant Programs.

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