Management of armyworm and loopers in fall produce

By John Palumbo, UA Research Scientist and Extension Specialist

Bagrada bugs are definitely a major problem currently in the Yuma County, Ariz., area. Pest control is likely consuming a large portion of pesticide spray budgets.

However, do not forget about beet armyworms and cabbage loopers which are historically the most important pests of produce crops in September and October.

Worm pressure has been light during the last several fall growing seasons. If populations showing up on fall melons and early produce thus far are any indication it could be different this fall.

Armyworms are especially abundant on all produce crops at the Yuma Agricultural Center. Loopers have been higher than normal on fall melons. Temperatures are likely driving much of this activity; particularly the higher nighttime temps.

For a review of management guidelines for lepidopterous larvae on produce crops, visit this link.

However, with all the pyrethoids applied to cole crops for bagrada bugs, cabbage looper pressure may actually be low this year. Remember, pyrethroids alone are not very effective against beet armyworms.

Fortunately, there are a number of insecticides that can be applied as stand-alone products to provide effective residual control of these lepidopterous species (click on link).

Until we learn more about the Bagrada bug and the numbers significantly decline, it would be wise to include a pyrethroid with all worm sprays this fall.

Contact Palumbo: (928) 782-3836 or jpalumbo@ag.arizona.edu.