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adult fall army worm

Many parts of southeast and central Alabama are facing moderate-to-severe drought conditions. Hot and humid weather conditions favor many major caterpillar species that are being monitored. The excessive heat is slowing down the activity of many natural enemies, which is contributing to the intensity of pest populations.

U.S. Drought Monitor Map. Richard Tinker, NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Crop Pest Activity

  • Watch for increased activity from fall and beet armyworms in crops. Fall armyworm moth activity has intensified over the past two weeks, and caterpillars may be present on vegetable and row crops at this time.
  • Peanut research plots at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in Headland had plenty of small to medium sized cabbage looper caterpillars. This activity is normal as the moth numbers continue to rise, suggesting a late-season outbreak may occur.
  • There have been no unusually high activity areas for tobacco budworm or corn earworm found.
  • Lesser cornstalk borer (LCB) moth numbers are high in peanut growing areas of the state with sandy soil and dry weather. Parts of central Alabama are also becoming strong LCB flight zone. This is a case of concern since LCB is associated strongly with drought patterns. LCB control can be tricky as the larvae live in silken tubes in soil causing direct yield loss in peanuts.
  • Squash vine borer moths (major pest in cucurbits) have shown tremendous rise in activity statewide. Early flight of vine borers have killed nearly 50 percent of Hubbard trap crops planted at the Chilton Horticultural Research and Extension Center. The New England variety of Hubbard was particularly favored by the moths over the Baby Blue variety (this trend was also seen in 2015). Vine borers are difficult to kill with organic and home garden products unless preventive treatments or pest exclusion systems are used.

Industrial Hemp Producers

  • Watch for an increase in armyworm (beet and yellowstriped) and webworm activity by direct scouting. Producers in Alabama have already noted caterpillars feeding on plants.
  • European Corn Borer moths have not been detected in sticky wing traps.
  • No problems with corn earworm have been received in hemp, however they may become problematic in the future based on observations from Colorado State University Extension.
  • As plants continue to grow and flower, watch for sucking insect pests like lygus bugs and stink bugs.
  • If you have fire ant issues, see Managing Fire Ants in Hemp for a full list of approved products.

For a deeper conversation about integrated pest management in industrial hemp, please contact Dr. Katelyn Kesheimer.

More Information

Additional details about pest monitoring and scouting can be found on the Integrated Pest Management page of the Alabama Extension website. For further information, contact your county Extension commercial horticulture agent. To receive timely pest alerts, subscribe to the Alabama IPM Communicator Newsletter.


Featured Image: B. R. Wiseman, USDA ARS, Bugwood.org.

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