Bollworm and Tobacco Budworm

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Bollworm and Tobacco Budworm

Both bollworm and tobacco budworm cause similar injury to cotton by feeding on squares, flowers, and bolls. In the field, it is difficult or impossible to distinguish between the caterpillars (larvae) of these two species. Damaged fruiting structures typically shed or large bolls may rot. The bollworm continues to be a serious threat in Tennessee despite the use of Bt cotton on most acres. Tobacco budworm typically causes little damage because of the wide adoption of Bt cotton, to which it is highly susceptible. However, infestation of tobacco budworm on non-Bt cotton can cause substantial yield loss, and they are highly resistant to insecticides from several classes of chemistry (e.g., pyrethroids).

Larvae feed on squares, flowers, and bolls. Holes and frass on these structures are a sign of infestation. Treatment is based on the average number (and size) or larvae found or the percentage of damaged fruiting structures. Examine a group of 5 plants at a minimum of 10 locations in a field. Look for larvae and signs of injury in the top 5 nodes and also examine at least one white or pink bloom and one additional boll in the mid canopy on each plant. Record the average number and size of larvae found per plant. A supplemental or alternative method is to examine 25 squares and 25 bolls in at least 4 locations in a field and record the number of squares and bolls with injury.

Non-Bt Cotton. Prior to bloom, treat when eight or more small larvae are present per 100 plants (or when populations threaten to reduce square retention below 80 percent). After first bloom, treat when four or more small larvae per 100 plants are present (or when 6% or more of squares and bolls are damaged and larvae are still present).

Bt Cotton. Economic infestations are unlikely prior to bloom, but treat when eight or more surviving larvae (> 1/4 inch or longer) are present per 100 plants (or when populations threaten to reduce square retention below 80 percent). After first bloom, treat when four or more surviving larvae are found per 100 plants (or when 6% or more of squares and bolls are damaged and larvae are still present).

 

Management Options

Insecticide (Trade Names)
BOLLWORM*
Lb Active Ingredient
per Acre
Amount Formulation
per Acre
Acres Treated per Gal or Lb
of Dry Product
Performance Rating
bifenthrin (Brigade 2, Discipline 2, Fanfare 2)0.078 - 0.15 - 6.4 oz25.6 - 207
cypermethrin 2.50.078 - 0.14 - 5 oz32 - 267
deltamethrin (Delta Gold 1.5)0.023 - 0.032 - 2.56 oz64 - 507
esfenvalerate (Asana XL 0.66E)0.036 - 0.057 - 9.6 oz18.2 - 137
β-cyfluthrin (Baythroid XL 1)0.0156 - 0.0202 - 2.6 oz64 - 497
γ-cyhalothrin (Declare 1.25)0.0146 - 0.021.5 - 2.05 oz85 - 627
λ-cyhalothrin (Karate 2.08, Warrior II)0.03 - 0.041.92 - 2.56 oz66.7 - 527
Z-cypermethrin (Mustang Max 0.8)0.0188 - 0.02253 - 3.6 oz42.7 - 35.67
TOBACCO BUDWORM
acephate 90 (Orthene 90S)0.91 lb15
chlorantraniliprole (Prevathon 0.43 SC)0.047 - 0.0914 - 27 oz9.1 - 4.79
chlorantraniliprole, λ-cyhalothrin (Besiege)See label7 - 12.5 oz18.3 - 10.259
emamectin benzoate (Denim 0.16)0.01 - 0.0158 - 12 oz16 - 10.77
indoxacarb (Steward 1.25)0.1111.3 oz11.38
methomyl (Lannate LV 2.4)0.4524 oz5.34
spinetoram, methoxyfenozide (Intrepid Edge)See label6 - 8 oz21.3 - 168
spinetoram (Radiant SC 1)0.033 - 0.06254.25 - 8 oz30.1 - 168
spinosad (Blackhawk 36% WDG)0.056 - 0.0722.0 - 3.2 oz6.4 - 58

* Insecticides listed for tobacco budworm should also control bollworm. Pyrethroids are only recommended when the population is exclusively bollworm, such as would be expected on Bt cotton varieties, but the efficacy of pyrethroid insecticides for the control of bollworm has declined. Thus, tank mixes or alternative chemistries may be needed for adequate control of bollworm in some circumstances.

 

  • Plant early maturing varieties and avoid unnecessary insecticide applications that may disrupt populations of natural enemies.
  • Bt cotton varieties provide excellent control of tobacco budworm.
  • Bt cotton varieties provide good but variable levels of control of bollworm. Insecticide applications may be needed in some cases, particularly in flowering cotton.
  • Insecticide applications can be terminated when cotton has accumulated 350-400 DD60s past NAWF5 (NAWF5 = average of 5 or fewer nodes above a first position white flower).