Historically, beet armyworm and cabbage looper are the most important pests of produce during September and October based on our annual Lettuce Insect Losses surveys. Now with produce planting well underway, it is no surprise that worms are everywhere, particularly in Dome Valley where reports of heavy armyworm have been numerous over the past week or so. Corn earworm larvae have also been found in a number of lettuce fields. Here at the Yuma Ag Center, one can easily find newly new egg masses and neonate beet armyworm larvae on 8 day old lettuce and broccoli stands. Similarly, cabbage loopers are beginning to show up and their populations will likely increase. Remember, temperatures drive larval development and adult activity, particularly when night time temps remain high (in the mid-70s or higher). Moths will activily oviposit when evenings are warm and winds are light. Don’t be fooled by this recent break in the weather. As long as the average temperature remains around 80-85°F, worms should be active at damaging levels. Those ideal conditions are consistent with the weather forecast for the next 10 days (highs in the mid-thigh 90’s and lows in the 70’s). Fortunately, there are a number of very effective insecticides that can be applied as stand-alone foliar products that provide effective residual control of both of these lepidopterous species. Radiant, Proclaim, Intrepid, Avaunt and any one of the Diamide products (Coragen, Belt, Voliam Xpress and Vetica) can provide good knockdown and extended residual control of armyworms and loopers. A newly registered diamide, Exirel provides both worm and whitefly activity. Over the past few years, our research trials have demonstrated that these products provide comparable control on lettuce and cole crops. Of course, residual control will often depend on the rate applied. In general, the higher the rate, the longer the residual, but this will also depend on how fast the plant is growing and plant size. Before selecting a product for Lep control, be conscious of products (chemistries) previously used on the crop. Avoid using products with the same mode of action more than twice on any given field. More information on the insecticides available for effective control of beet armyworm and cabbage looper can be found in this document: Lepidopterous Larvae Management in Desert Produce Crops.
Remember, When in Doubt . . . . . “SCOUT”
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For questions or comments on any of the topics please contact Marco Pena at the Yuma Agricultural Center.
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