Category Archives: Pest Group

Corn earworm pest problems on hemp and results of recent insecticide tests

By: Tom Kuhar (Entomology Professor, Virginia Tech), Kadie Britt (Ph.D. student researching hemp IPM), and Helene Doughty (Entomologist, Eastern Shore AREC, Painter, VA)

Fig. 1. Corn earworm damaging CBD hemp in Virginia. Photo by Kadie Britt.

Corn earworm has become one of the most important pests of hemp, Cannabis sativa, in Virginia and many other states (Fig. 1).  Please see our factsheet on this insect as it relates to hemp: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/ENTO/ento-328/ENTO-328.pdf

Corn earworm can be quite damaging to the seed heads of hemp grown for grain (Fig. 2), but, as we’ve seen recently in Virginia, the pest can also damage hemp grown for CBD oil.  Over the past few weeks, corn earworm densities and damage to CBD hemp has reached very high levels throughout Virginia, and their presence in fields has been associated with increased flower bud rot (Fig. 3). This can result in significant economic damage to that crop. 

Due to strict regulations on pesticide use on hemp, insecticide recommendations for managing this pest are quite limited at this time.  Recently, we evaluated the efficacy of some naturally-derived pesticides that can be legally applied on hemp in Virginia and one naturally-derived (OMRI-certified) insecticide that currently is not allowed to be applied on hemp (Spinosad).    

Fig. 1. Corn earworm damage to grain hemp. Photo by Helene Doughty, Eastern Shore AREC.
Fig. 2. Bud rot on CBD hemp. Photo by Kadie Britt.

Eastern Shore Insecticide Field Trial:

Treatments included:

  1. Gemstar (5 fl oz/A) – which is a nuclear polyhedrosis virus that is specific to the corn earworm species.  The virus causes corn earworm to become sick and die.  Fig. 4. Shows a corn earworm killed by the virus. 
  2. Javelin WG (8 oz/A)Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strain kurstaki – bacterial crystalline proteins that kill caterpillars.
  3. Dipel DF (16 oz/A) – Bt kurstaki different formulation
  4. BoteGHA (32 fl oz/A) Beauveria bassiana – entomopathogenic fungi
  5. Entrust (5 oz/A) – Spinosad derived from soil microbes. *cannot legally be applied on hemp in Virginia. 
Fig. 4. Corn earworm killed by virus (Gemstar insecticide). ESAREC 2019. Photo by Helene Doughty.

We evaluated their efficacy in the field on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in a randomized complete block small plot trial.  Hemp plots were sprayed twice (1 week apart) and numbers of live CEW larvae and damage was assessed.  Results are shown in Figs. 5 & 6.  Entrust was the only product that provided effective control of CEW.  Unfortunately, this is the one product that we evaluated that is not allowed to be applied on hemp.  The insecticide Entrust is OMRI-certified however.    

Fig. 5. Numbers of live corn earworm larvae on hemp plants after insecticide treatments at the ESAREC, Painter, VA.
Fig. 6 Corn earworm damage to hemp seeds in the field after insecticide treatments.

Virginia Tech bioassay trial:

Treatments included:

  1. Gemstar (5 fl oz/A) – which is a nuclear polyhedrosis virus that is specific to the corn earworm species.  The virus causes corn earworm to become sick and die.  Fig. 3. Shows a corn earworm killed by the virus. 
  2. Javelin WG (8 oz/A)Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strain kurstaki – bacterial crystalline proteins that kill caterpillars.
  3. Dipel DF (16 oz/A) – Bt kurstaki different formulation
  4. Xentari (16 oz/A) – Bacillus thuringiensis , subsp. aizawai , Strain ABTS-1857
  5. BoteGHA (32 fl oz/A) Beauveria bassiana – entomopathogenic fungi
  6. Entrust (5 oz/A) – Spinosad derived from soil microbes. *cannot legally be applied on hemp in Virginia. 

In order to evaluate the efficacy, untreated hemp seed heads were collected from Kentland Farm and dipped in each of the treatments.  Approximately 1 oz of seeds was placed per diet cup and four reps of 10 cups each were set up for the aforementioned six insecticide treatments.  CEW larvae (3rd instar (medium sized) were collected from sweet corn planted at Kentland Farm and were immediately placed 1 larva per cup.  Mortality was evaluated 1, 2, 3, and 4 days after treatment (Fig. 7).  Similar to the Eastern shore field trial, Entrust provided the most effective control of CEW.  However, this trial also included the Bt aizawai product Xentari, which also provided significant control (better than the other products except spinosad.  Xentari is allowed for use on hemp in Virginia.  For best management of corn earworm during this time, apply Bt products on hemp every few (2-3) days in early morning or late evening. Corn earworm must consume the insecticide for the application to be effective, so ensure good spray coverage on plants. Dead worms may not be noticed until 48 hours after first application.

Fig. 7. Percentage mortality of corn earworm larvae placed on treated hemp seeds in a controlled laboratory experiment. DAT refers to days after treatment (insecticide dip).

EVAREC Soybean Field Day is This Tuesday

The Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center (EVAREC) Soybean Field Day is this Tuesday, Sept. 24. The field day begins at 8:45 am and tours will begin promptly at 9:00 am. There are a number of different topics to be discussed, all supported by the Virginia Soybean Checkoff. The 2019 full-season soybean variety test will also be available for viewing. Lunch will be served by Nixon’s Catering. We look forward to seeing you there.

The EVARE is located at 2229 Menokin Road, Warsaw, VA 22572. For more information, contact Dr. Joseph Oakes, EVAREC Superintendent at 804-333-3485.

Group 1 Field Tour Schedule

  • 8:45 – Welcome & Introductions; Load Trailers to ACR 2
  • 9:00-9:20 – Integrated Pest Management Approach for Soybean
  • Dr. Sally Taylor
  • 9:25-9:45 – Food Grade Soybean Breeding
    • Mr. Nick Lord
  • 9:45 – Load Trailers to Y1
  • 9:55-10:15 – The Best Maturity Group for Your Farm
    • Dr. David Holshouser
  • 10:15-10:30 – The Use of UAV in Crop Research and Production
    • Dr. Joseph Oakes
  • 10:35-10:55 – Roundup-Ready and Conventional Soybean Breeding
    • Dr. Bo Zhang
  • 11:00-11:20 – Weed Management in Soybean
    • Dr. Michael Flessner
  • 11:20 – Walk to Seed Lab

Program & Speakers in the Seed Lab

  • 11:40 – Begin Indoor Program
    • Dr. John Fike: VT Forage Extension Specialist – Hemp Production
    • Dr. Mike Evans: VT School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
  • 12:00 – Lunch is Served: Nixon’s Catering

Thank You to Our Field Day Sponsors!

Crabbe Aviation                       Ryan Ellis

Frazier Quarries                      UniSouth Genetics

James River Equipment            Virginia Crop Improv. Assoc.

Montague Farms

Corn earworm update for September 5, 2019

Average nightly black light trap captures of corn earworm moths this week were: Chesapeake=33; Greensville=13; Southampton=10; Suffolk=27. Hanover had 12 per night if averaged over the past 2 nights, but 3 if averaged over the entire week. Here is the table:

In our corn earworm pyrethroid resistance monitoring experiment (adult vial tests), the seasonal average is 36% survival to a 24-hour exposure of 5 micrograms of cypermethrin per vial.

Corn earworm update for August 29, 2019

Nightly corn earworm/bollworm moth averages for reporting black light trap stations this week were: Greensville=22; Prince George (Templeton)=12; Prince George (Disputanta)=10; Southampton=13; Suffolk=32. Please see the link to the table below and also compare this year’s Suffolk, VA numbers to the past several years.

I have seen a large number of corn earworm moths in our soybean at the Tidewater Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Suffolk this week. Remember to scout for larvae and use the threshold calculator for soybean: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/CEW-calculator-v0.006.html

Our pheromone trap catches at Suffolk have also increased and we were able to conduct more adult vial tests for resistance monitoring using the pyrethroid cypermethrin. The average survival for this season is now 37%.

Soybean Fungicide Advisory – August 15, 2019

For soybean that is at or near the beginning pod (R3) stage, it is time to consider whether or not a fungicide application is needed to control foliar diseases and protect yield. Most of the soybean in Virginia is past the beginning pod (R3) stage, and fungicide applications are more likely to be profitable when applied at or near R3/R4. The Virginia soybean fungicide advisory indicates that disease risk is variable across the state. Fields with moderate risk should be scouted since foliar diseases will not be an issue in every field every year.  Keep in mind that other risk factors also contribute to disease severity and yield loss to fungal diseases. High risk fields include those where susceptible soybean varieties are planted, there is a recent history of soybean foliar diseases, and/or rotations out of soybean are short or soybean is planted continuously over several years. Foliar fungicides are ineffective for control of most stem and root diseases. If based on the soybean fungicide advisory or other factors you decide to apply a fungicide, applications are generally the most effective when applied between R3 and R4 stages (no later than R5). The most recent Soybean Fungicide Efficacy Table can be downloaded from the Crop Protection Network website. Instructions on how to use the Virginia soybean fungicide advisory can be found in the July 19 blog post. A summary of disease risk and spray recommendations for different locations in Virginia can be found below. If you have any questions, contact Dr. Hillary Mehl (hlmehl@vt.edu).

Region of VirginiaLocation of weather stationSoybean disease riskRecommendation
Eastern ShorePainterHighSpray
SoutheasternSuffolkModerateScout
SoutheasternVirginia BeachHighSpray
Northern NeckWarsawHighSpray
CentralBlackstone ModerateScout
NorthernMiddleburgModerateScout
NorthernShenandoahModerateScout
NorthernWinchesterLowDon’t spray
WesternCritzHighSpray
WesternBlacksburgHighSpray
WesternGlade SpringHighSpray

For detailed daily advisories, select the location closest to your field and download the corresponding file here:

Soybean Fungicide Advisory – August 8, 2019

For soybean that is at or near the beginning pod (R3) stage, it is time to consider whether or not a fungicide application is needed to control foliar diseases and protect yield. The Virginia soybean fungicide advisory indicates that disease risk is variable across the state. Fields with moderate risk should be scouted since foliar diseases will not be an issue in every field every year.  Keep in mind that other risk factors also contribute to disease severity and yield loss to fungal diseases. High risk fields include those where susceptible soybean varieties are planted, there is a recent history of soybean foliar diseases, and/or rotations out of soybean are short or soybean is planted continuously over several years. If based on the soybean fungicide advisory or other factors you decide to apply a fungicide, applications are generally the most effective when applied between R3 and R4 stages (no later than R5). The most recent Soybean Fungicide Efficacy Table can be downloaded from the Crop Protection Network website. Instructions on how to use the Virginia soybean fungicide advisory can be found in the July 19 blog post. A summary of disease risk and spray recommendations for different locations in Virginia can be found below.

Region of VirginiaLocation of weather stationSoybean disease riskRecommendation
Eastern ShorePainterHighSpray
SoutheasternSuffolkModerateScout
SoutheasternVirginia BeachModerate to highScout
Northern NeckWarsawModerate to highScout
CentralBlackstone ModerateScout
NorthernMiddleburgModerate to highScout
NorthernShenandoahHighSpray
NorthernWinchesterLowDon’t spray
WesternCritzHighSpray
WesternBlacksburgLowDon’t spray
WesternGlade SpringHighSpray

For detailed daily advisories, select the location closest to your field and download the corresponding file here:

Corn earworm update for August 8, 2019

Black light trap catches of H. zea (corn earworm/bollworm) moths increased at most locations this week. Please see the data table for more information.

We have tested 168 corn earworm moths in our cypermethrin vial tests so far this season, with a seasonal average of 39.5% survival. Here are the results by month (we’ll be conducting more tests throughout August):

We have updated our corn earworm survey of field corn (as a predictor of infestation risk in other crops such as soybean) to include Rockingham County’s 10.8% infested ears. Thanks to all cooperators for their efforts. Statewide average infested ears was 15.3% for 2019. The updated table and map are here:

Soybean Fungicide Advisory – August 3, 2019

For soybean that is at or near the beginning pod (R3) stage, it is time to consider whether or not a fungicide application is needed to control foliar diseases and protect yield. The Virginia soybean fungicide advisory indicates that disease risk is variable across the state. Fields with moderate risk should be scouted since foliar diseases will not be an issue in every field every year.  Keep in mind that other risk factors also contribute to disease severity and yield loss to fungal diseases. High risk fields include those where susceptible soybean varieties are planted, there is a recent history of soybean foliar diseases, and/or rotations out of soybean are short or soybean is planted continuously over several years. If based on the soybean fungicide advisory or other factors you decide to apply a fungicide, applications are generally the most effective when applied between R3 and R4 stages (no later than R5). The most recent Soybean Fungicide Efficacy Table can be downloaded from the Crop Protection Network website. Instructions on how to use the Virginia soybean fungicide advisory can be found in the July 19 blog post. A summary of disease risk and spray recommendations for different locations in Virginia can be found below.

Region of VirginiaLocation of weather stationSoybean disease riskRecommendation
Eastern ShorePainterHighSpray
SoutheasternSuffolkLow to moderateDon’t spray
SoutheasternVirginia BeachModerateScout
Northern NeckWarsawModerate to highScout
CentralBlackstone LowDon’t spray
NorthernMiddleburgModerate to highScout
NorthernShenandoahModerate to highScout
NorthernWinchesterLow to moderateDon’t spray
WesternCritzHighSpray
WesternBlacksburgModerateScout
WesternGlade SpringHighSpray

For detailed daily advisories, select the location closest to your field and download the corresponding file here:

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Hillary Mehl (hlmehl@vt.edu).

Corn earworm update, including field corn survey results, for August 1, 2019

Corn earworm moth catches are increasing for most black light stations; nightly averages this week were: Greensville=25.1; Prince George (Templeton)=5.7; Prince George (Disputanta)=3.7; Warsaw=46.4; Southampton=9.0; Suffolk=14.6.

Preliminary results from our annual survey of field corn show the following percent infested ears (based on sampling 5 corn fields/county, 50 ears per field, for evidence of corn earworm larvae): Accomack=16.0 percent infested ears; Amelia=15.6; Chesapeake=5.6; Dinwiddie=19.6; Essex=11.6; Greensville=32.8; Hanover=32.8; Isle of Wight=17.6; King & Queen=13.6; King William=24.4; Lancaster=4.8; Northampton=11.2; Northumberland=4.0; Prince George=12.8; Southampton=11.2; Virginia Beach=17.6; Westmoreland=12.8. Thanks to the following for collecting data from their counties: Eastern Shore AREC entomology; Laura Siegle; Watson Lawrence; Mike Parrish; Robbie Longest and Brittany Semko; Sara Rutherford; Laura Maxey-Nay; Livvy Preisser; Trent Jones; Scott Reiter; Joshua Holland; Roy, Bailey, and Fletcher Flanagan; and Stephanie Romelczyk and Amerah Thompson.

We have found bollworm eggs and small larvae in our cotton experiment in Suffolk. Please be sure to scout your fields.