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Insect Management

Aim To Minimize Damage From Insect Outbreaks

It's a safe bet that most fields will be visited by some insect pests, both foliage feeders and soil-borne insects during the growing season. Knowing what to look for when will help with management decisions.

Focus Early On Foliage Feeders
In general, the best approach is to adopt an intensive scouting program from the beginning of the season. Scouts should be well-trained and should stay in regular contact with growers.

In the early season, focus on foliage feeding worms like cutworms and corn earworms. Thresholds of four or more worms per row foot is still an acceptable treatment level, but also take into consideration the size and amount of damage being caused.

Late June is time to evaluate the potential for leafhopper and three-cornered alfalfa hoppers. Look for adults and nymphs of these two sucking insects, and treat based on Extension recommendations. Continue to focus on these insects and evidence of their damage during July and early August. Treatment should not be necessary in the last month before digging peanuts.

Peg And Pod Feeders Chew Away Bottom Line
Mid-season is the time to look for soil insects, which feed on pegs and developing pods. Lesser cornstalk borers, wireworms, southern corn rootworms and burrower bugs can cause considerable yield loss, reduce quality and predispose the plants to some diseases. Unfortunately, there is often little to no control of soil insects.

Scouting involves pulling up peanut plants and examining them for damage from any of these insect pests. Also, sift through the soil where the plants came from and look for the insects themselves. For better coverage with insecticides, go slow and stay on the target longer, and make sure the sprayer is accurately calibrated.

Looks For Resurgence Of Foliage Feeders
Continue to look for foliage feeders, such as fall armyworms, velvetbean caterpillars and loopers, in the mid-to-late season.

In the latter part of the season, peanuts can tolerate significant defoliation, so the threshold levels of four or more per row foot should be a starting point for treatment. When treating, take out the primary threat first. If a complex of three or four worms is present, and some are killed, but not one such as velvetbean caterpillar, then there is still a risk of having the pest strip the plant.

By scouting regularly, following treatment thresholds and improving insecticide application coverage, growers can minimize outbreaks of these difficult and expensive to control pests.


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