South Carolina Soybeans: Caterpillars Are Invading

    Soybeans are blooming now in a large number of Pee Dee fields.  Foliage feeding caterpillars can found pretty easily now when scouting.  Soybeans can tolerate a fair amount of foliage feeding before bloom (30% defoliation), but during and after bloom that tolerance drops considerably (15%).  Regular scouting should be going on now to monitor defoliation.  Below are a few of the different caterpillars that are active right now.

    Color and size can vary making identification confusing, so refer to the graphic below for some distinguishing features to look out for.

    Field ID Lep

    It’s important to know what you have in your field before making spray decisions as some caterpillars are more destructive than others; therefore, thresholds for each differ.  Here are a couple tables from the SC Pest Management Handbook outlining the thresholds when scouting with beat cloths or sweep nets.

    Beat ThresholdsSweep thresholds

    Be sure to check at least 2 separate areas of the field and sample each area twice.  If you can not make a clear decision whether or not to make a treatment after that, check an additional area or two.  If fields are found to be over threshold, labeled insecticides and there rates can be found in the Soybean Insect Control section of the SC Pest Management Handbook.  Additional scouting information and thresholds can be found there as well.

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