Fall Armyworms – Late August 2014 Edition

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Fall armyworms are commonly observed in the mix of caterpillar we find in peanuts especially later in the season. Typically their damage is of much less concern as the feeding on foliage is not as bad as corn earworm. They often give what I call an “onion skin” appearance to the location where they feed on the leaflets. This year I am seeing more fall armyworms in general than I have seen in the past 20 years. Not necessarily in peanuts, but everywhere. This still doesn’t concern me a lot since peanut plant health is pretty good and we have a lot of foliage. Some of you who have been around awhile remember a few years however, that when peanuts were inverted, fall armyworms moved up the vines and onto the pods and begin to feed directly on the pods. Others may remember seeing fall armyworms dropping out of trailers full of peanuts. Not exactly what we want to see at that point.

It’s hard to know what fall armyworms are going to be like come mid-September and onwards. A lot can change. Those who remember the situations I described above might be a bit uneasy about word coming down that fall armyworms are bad this year. On top of that, fall armyworms are a bit harder to control than corn earworms, but nothing like budworms. The current generation will be gone come harvest. However, there is time for another generation to occur. The potential for a problem at harvest will depend on timing and favorable weather conditions (for the armyworms) but we do need to keep this in mind. I am not going to predict a problem, but I don’t want to total forget about them either. As one might guess we don’t have any options for control of fall armyworms on inverted peanuts.

Article first appeared as North Carolina Peanut Note (PNNC-2014-127)