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Beet Armyworm and Cabbage Loopers in Fall Produce (September 18, 2013)

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 beginning to show up in fields that have been in the ground for 10 days or more. Here at the Yuma Ag Center, one can easily find new egg masses and neonate beet armyworm larvae on 10-11 day old lettuce and broccoli stands; and in fairly high numbers. Samples taken from our experimental field plots showed that about 10% of 1-leaf stage lettuce plants examined had larvae and/or damage. This is well above threshold. Similarly, cabbage loopers were fairly abundant on our fall melons this year, but so far none have been observed on produce yet. It is still a little early for looper, but they are right around the corner. Remember, temperatures drive larval development and adult activity, particularly when night time temps remain high (in the mid-70s or higher). The higher temperatures we’ve been experiencing the past week or so are ideal for worm development and moth activity. As long as the average temperature remains around 85°F, worms should be active at damaging levels. 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. 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 2013.

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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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