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Now is the Time to Watch for Velvetbean Caterpillars in Peanuts

Velvetbean caterpillar feeding on peanut foliage. Credit: Josh Thompson

Velvetbean caterpillar feeding on peanut foliage. Credit: Josh Thompson

Velvetbean caterpillars (Anticarsia gemmatalis) are an occasional late season pest which can have a big effect on a peanut crop. They can defoliate a field of peanuts in a matter of few days if left unchecked, making it important to monitor for this caterpillar.

Velvetbean caterpillars can range from green to dark gray and have distinctive stripes down the sides of their bodies. Sometimes they are misidentified as armyworms. A key characteristic is Velvetbean caterpillars wiggle wildly when handled. They are often seen in large numbers in peanut and soybean fields in late August and September.

The threshold for deciding to treat a field once the peanut vines have lapped is six larvae per foot of row. Even if a peanut field is only a week or two from digging, it may still be necessary to treat since Velvetbean caterpillars are known to feed on pegs after peanuts are dug.

For more information, see the Univeristy of Florida Velvetbean Caterpillar publication, and for insecticide recommendations see the  UGA Peanut Insect Control Guide.

Former Jackson County Extension Director, Ed Jowers, identifying a Velvetbean caterpillar infestation in a peanut field.

Former Jackson County Extension Director, Ed Jowers, identifying a Velvetbean caterpillar infestation in a peanut field.

PG

Author: Josh Thompson – j.thompson@ufl.edu

Josh Thompson is a regional agricultural agent based in Jackson County who focuses on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and agronomic crops.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Josh Thompson

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/09/14/now-is-the-time-to-watch-for-velvetbean-caterpillars-in-peanuts/