Alabama Peanuts: Insects Slowly Building, Keep Scouting

    Threecornered alfalfa hopper. Photo: University of Tennessee

    Rains have continued for the most part in Alabama with almost none of the key peanut production areas marked as drought on the US Drought Monitor website. This is good news for producers, as frequent rainfall and the resulting weather fluctuations do not favor pest activity in general.

    Based on the insect monitoring data across Alabama summarized in the table alongside, the moth counts in sticky wing pheromone traps are similar to that of 2017. Although most moth activity appears to be increasing slowly, we expect continued buildup of insects based on historic records from the past 10 years (data table).

    So producers should scout and monitor peanut fields, and be ready to control caterpillars, aphids, and leaf hoppers as necessary.

    • High moisture from frequent rains has increased three-cornered alfalfa activity in peanuts. Frequent irrigation over peanuts has the same effect. Watch for dying secondary branches and prevent the pegging branches to be severed with timely intervention.
    • Beet armyworm moth activity has increased slightly compared to June. Fall armyworm moth activity appears steady before monitoring periods.
    • Cabbage looper moth activity has jumped up suddenly in few weeks – caterpillars have started to show up causing some leaf defoliation. Soybean looper moth activity is holding steady in peanuts. Mixed populations of loopers likely to be seen in fields.
    • Nothing unusual to report about corn earworms or tobacco budworms so far this year. Haven’t seen large number of those caterpillars in peanuts, but watch for pockets of intense activity. Correct identification is absolutely essential to successful control of tobacco budworms.
    • Lesser cornstalk borer moth activity has increased from 9 moths per trap to 69 moths per trap in one month – this is always alarming in drought years. So stay alert.
    • Peanuts planted in high tunnels at Headland and Clanton have shown late-season thrips and cowpea aphids outbreaks – this is aggravated by synthetic pyrethroid spraying (intentional misapplication to induce non-IPM conditions that removes beneficial insects causing pest outbreaks). Yes – cowpea aphids (shiny black aphid as adults and lighter colored nymphs in attached pic) are active in peanuts under hot dry conditions inside high tunnels.
    • We have received some reports on snail and slug activity in peanuts. Snails/slugs may cause direct damage to crops, but it is the issue of contamination with shells (snails) that is a major problem. In general, snails/slugs like the high moisture conditions we are in and tend to buildup in soils with high organic matter or top residue. Soil tillage also exposes them to predators or destroys them. A separate blog post on snail and slug control will be available shortly, although the control options are very limited.
    moth activity 7-20-18.jpg

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    cowpea aphid in peanuts - July 5, 2018.JPG

    Cowpea aphid in peanuts

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