Prepare Now to Control Yield-robbing Soybean Pests
Soybean looper and corn earworm pose greatest economic threat

Monday, June, 19, 2017 9:00 AM EST

INDIANAPOLIS  — Southern soybean farmers are preparing for another season of insect infestations that could cause costly damage if not controlled.

Corn earworm and soybean looper have the potential to take the biggest bite out of soybean yield this season. Effective control begins with diligent and frequent scouting and establishing a sound Integrated Pest Management plan to treat yield-robbing pests.

Scouting and thresholds
When scouting for defoliators such as armyworm, soybean looper or leaf beetle, evaluating each field based on level of defoliation at various points in the growing season is best, says Dominic Reisig, associate professor and entomology Extension specialist at North Carolina State University. For narrow rows under 30 inches, which most Southern soybean growers now plant, he recommends using a sweep net to check several spots in a field. 

“The sweep net is really used more for identification to determine which of the defoliator pests are present versus counting the number feeding,” Reisig says. “That’s because our threshold is based more on percent of defoliation of the entire canopy than the number of caterpillars present.”

Reisig explains the defoliation threshold varies by timing within the growing season and is determined by pre-bloom and blooming stages. Soybeans tolerate more insect feeding or foliage loss before blooming.

“Prior to blooming, we can safely say that growers can tolerate 30 percent foliage loss throughout the entire canopy and not experience yield loss,” Reisig says. “If the plants are blooming, however, or it appears that flowering will occur within a week or so, we recommend 15 percent foliage loss as the potential yield-loss threshold. We are confident that if growers treat at these levels they can prevent yield loss.”

Reisig cautions that soybean looper can be tricky to spot. The caterpillars start feeding at the bottom of the canopy and move up so early feeding isn’t easily noticeable. Once they grow larger, they tend to migrate up in the canopy and begin to eat faster as appetites increase.

“Southern soybean farmers should be on the lookout now and remain diligent in scouting for several potentially devastating insect pests,” says Randy Huckaba, field scientist, Dow AgroSciences, Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Many of the Lepidoptera pests have become more difficult to control in recent years due to increasing resistance to several more widely used insecticides,” he said. “Intrepid Edge insecticide has become a valuable tool in farmers’ soybean pest control arsenal.”

Intrepid Edge® insecticide combines the knockdown power of spinetoram with the residual control of methoxyfenozide, allowing for faster knockdown and consistent residual control of destructive foliage- and pod-feeding insects, including armyworm, corn earworm, bollworm and looper. The combination of chemistries also makes Intrepid Edge an excellent rotational option for resistance management that serves well as the primary insecticide treatment option for farmers’ IPM programs.

Treatment recommendations and timing 
“Generally, we’re waiting to make a treatment recommendation for soybean looper until we’ve reached the defoliation threshold,” Reisig says. “By that time, the caterpillars are usually pretty large. It takes an insecticide like Intrepid Edge that has a fast knockdown and is proven to work well on large caterpillars. The fast knockdown also is important because the larger the caterpillar is, the more, and faster, it is going to eat.”

In addition to the broad spectrum of Lepidoptera pest control, fast knockdown and long residual, Intrepid Edge® insecticide will not flare mites or aphids, and minimizes disruption of beneficial insects often caused by other insecticides.

Reisig is especially excited about the fit of Intrepid Edge for soybean looper in his area of extreme eastern North Carolina.

“Soybean looper is a migratory pest here that we experience throughout the growing season,” he says. “The migration piece is significant because we don’t know where the soybean looper is coming from. It likely appears here because it has survived sprays from points to the south. This carries with it resistance implications. I’ve been recommending Intrepid Edge based on the consistency it shows and that we’ve been finding soybean looper populations that appear to be resistant to other classes of insecticides.”

For more information about Intrepid Edge, contact your sales representative, field scientist, retailer or Extension specialist, or visit

Photo courtesy of Dominic Reisig
North Carolina State University Extension

Soybean loopers can be tricky to spot since they tend to feed on the underside of leaves at the lower portion of soybean canopy. As caterpillars mature and grow larger, appetites increase, as does the amount of defoliation loopers can cause. Farmers should consider a treatment option such as Intrepid Edge® insecticide when 30 percent defoliation has occurred.

About Dow AgroSciences
Dow AgroSciences discovers, develops, and brings to market crop protection and plant biotechnology solutions for the growing world. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and had annual global sales of $6.2 billion in 2016. Learn more at Follow Dow AgroSciences on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

Elizabeth Astin
Bader Rutter

Kevin Sheaffer
Dow AgroSciences LLC

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