Over the last few days I have seen a variety of foliage feeding caterpillars in pastures, peanut and soybean fields. Managing these pests can be a little tricky as several of the caterpillars are resistant to certain insecticides and positive identification is needed. Some species of caterpillars are difficult to identify because they look similar to another type of caterpillar. These pests can quickly defoliate our plants and leave us with little to support our crops and livestock.
For hay producers and livestock producers, it is important to scout their fields and pastures for these pests throughout the growing season. Caterpillars like the fall armyworm can eat much of the grass that we are trying to feed our animals in a few short days. For row crop producers that have peanuts and soybeans, these crops can stand a little feeding before we need to treat for the caterpillars. It is important to scout these row crops a few times a week to see how the population of plant pests are building.
Soybean growers should also look for kudzu bugs in their nymph stage to get good control of this plant feeding pest. We have seen the young hatch-outs in soybean fields recently and expect other growers to see them in their fields soon. Contact your local county extension agent for information about the control of these and other crop pests.