August 18, 2023
Velvetbean caterpillars (VBC) have become abundant in Georgia peanut fields over the last 10 days. Growers that do not have a scout or consultant should check their fields for infestations TODAY. Over the course of the last week I have seen fields stripped to bare stems and have heard of caterpillar counts up to 15 larvae per foot of row. While there is usually a mix of species, VBC has been the predominant caterpillar in most fields. We sprayed a test at UGA in Tifton Friday afternoon that was running 5 VBC per foot of row. There were some soybean looper, corn earworm, and armyworms in the field too, but all together they averaged less than one caterpillar per foot. Which insecticide is best for the job will depend on the abundance of each species present and the cost of the product.
Bottom line: velvetbean caterpillars are present now and can defoliate peanut fields very quickly. Peanuts should be scouted now. Do not hesitate to treat when VBC numbers reach the threshold.
If you have questions about caterpillar management of any other insect management concern in peanut, contact your local UGA County Extension Agent.