2 min read
beet armyworm

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

Disclaimer: The Alabama Vegetable IPM program conducts the statewide insect monitoring program as a special service to crop producers. Pest alerts are based on moth counts from sticky wing pheromone traps that generate trends detailed in this report. However, there is no shortcut to direct crop scouting to detect pest pressure. High moth activity in traps usually leads to an increase in caterpillar pressure within 10-14 days. Producers should monitor insects, keep good records, and develop their own IPM plan suitable for the farm.

Alabama Drought map from USDA (droughmonitor.unl.edu):  At this point, most of Alabama is not in a drought. Only a few southeastern and southwest counties show regions of abnormal dryness.

Early Season Insect Activity

  • Always watch the weather before making IPM decisions. Flash drought is very harmful to specialty crops compared to a prolonged drought. Excessive rainfall (like in 2021) prolongs insect development and activity, may slow down natural enemies, and create problems in applying organic or conventional insecticides.
  • There is a sudden increase in the activity of southern armyworm (SAW) moths compared to fall or beet armyworms. SAW caterpillars feed on a variety of crops and can be especially damaging to vegetable crops in southeast and southwest Alabama. Control them when the larvae are small.
  • Corn earworm (CEW) or tomato fruitworm (TFW) moth activity is also high compared to budworms.
  • We have detected fall armyworm (FAW) moths in southeast Alabama but low activity in east central Alabama. The first activity of FAW will be in hay/pasture and turfgrass before moths begin to move to row crops and specialty crops – so watch out! Make sure to scout crops immediately after storms as many of the armyworms and small insects are moved to new areas.
  • There are plenty of squash vine borer (SVB) moths in areas with a history of cucurbit crop production. SVB is particularly harmful in organic and certified naturally grown (CNG) farms that may not be controlling the moths with organic insecticides. If we enter a drought phase, then squash plants may succumb to the insect sooner than normal year. Watch for the day-flying female moths that lay eggs at plant bases and behave like wasps.

Pest Monitoring Report

SpeciesMoth numbers (5 locations)Crops under threat
Beet armyworm4beans, beets, cabbage, corn, cowpea, tomato, etc.
Fall armyworm 5prefer grasses; cotton, corn, peanut, etc.
Southern armyworm 40cabbage, collard, okra, tomato, cowpea, peanut, etc.
Yellow-striped armyworm 2corn, tomato, cotton, soybean, sorghum, etc.
Cabbage looper 3cabbage, kale, mustard, turnip, cucumber, peas, cotton, tabacco, peanut, etc.
Soybean looper 0soybean, peanut, corn, cotton, tomato, peas, etc.
Corn earworm 13corn, tomato, hemp, cabbage, eggplant, beans, okra, pepper, peanut, etc.
Tobacco budworm 0tobacco, cotton, cabbage, pepper, squash, tomato, etc.
Lesser cornstalk borer 10peanut, soybean, corn, pea, pepper, bean, sorghum, etc.
Squash vine borer 20summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins


IPM Resources

Use the following IPM resources for insecticide choices related to specialty crops.

Video Resources

The Alabama Beginning Farmer playlist on the Alabama Extension YouTube channel have several IPM videos. One of the new field IPM videos, Integrated Pest Management (Overview), provides an overview of all three levels of pest management.


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