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rows in a peanut field

In Alabama, the insect and mite pests that feed on peanuts by sucking their plant juices are thrips, aphids, leafhoppers, three cornered alfalfa hoppers, and spider mites. Except for thrips, damage to peanuts from these pests is sporadic. Environmental factors can enhance the activity of these secondary pests sometimes resulting in economic loss. As well as causing direct damage to the plant, several of these pests cause indirect damage by transmitting viruses to peanuts. These pests do not have a treatment threshold established for peanuts. Because of the type of damage they cause and their sporadic occurrence, decisions about management and control are difficult to make.

However, a better understanding of the biology of these pests and the ability to identify them and their damage should help in making proper management decisions. The following are the major sucking insect pests of peanuts.


Adults and immatures primarily cause damage to peanuts by feeding on seedling plants. They feed in the folded leaflets of the buds of plants causing scarred, deformed leaves which are often referred to as “possum-eared”. Tobacco thrips and the less common western flower thrips are also vectors of the tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) in peanuts. Read more about thrips in peanuts.


Leafhoppers have several different species found in peanuts. The most common is a small, green insect about 1/8 inch long. There are larger species that are brown or even multicolored. Because of the long and narrow shape of these insects, they are sometimes called “sharp shooters.” Read more about leafhoppers in peanuts.

Three-Cornered Alfalfa Hoppers (TCAH)

The Three-Cornered Alfalfa Hoppers (TCAH) is about 1/4 inch long with a wedge-shaped body. Adults are green; nymphs are tan or green with spines along the top of the body. Damage is caused by adults and nymphs piercing the stems and the leaf petioles. Read more about TCAH in peanuts.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are another common sucking insect of peanuts. The predominate spider mite found on Alabama peanuts is the two-spotted mite. These tiny, insect-related pests feed primarily by sucking plant juices from the underside of the leaf. The feeding causes a yellow speckling of the leaves and the foliage to gradually turn from yellow to brown. Read more about spider mites in peanuts.


Aphids have not been an economic problem on peanuts in recent years. These soft-bodied insects are often called “plant lice” and feed by sucking the juices from foliage. They may be yellow, dark green, or black in color, and are approximately 1/4 inch long with an oval shaped body. Read more about aphids in peanuts.

Control Recommendations

For specific control recommendations of these pests, ask your county Extension agent for a copy of Circular IPM-360, “IPM For Peanuts.”


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