WEEK 5: First of two looper flights. Read the full report HERE.
The most notable trend this week is the sharp rise in looper activity. As seen in the graph below, 2016 levels (blue bars) were well above the historical norm (gray shaded line), and they remained that way throughout the season. This early 2017 peak (orange dot), while alarming, just means we’ll need to keep an eye on activity. It is the 2nd flight (Jul-Aug) that causes the most damage, because larvae and pupae contaminate crops headed for the processor. A contaminated crop can mean load rejection.
Home gardeners should be wary of looper levels, because larvae feed on a variety of crops including lettuce, tomatoes, peas, and other garden favorites. If you are concerned about defoliation, begin scouting between May 18th and 23rd. Look for ‘windowpanes’ or ragged holes, depending on how big the larvae are.
Processed vegetable growers are mostly concerned with looper flights near button-stage, as the main concern of this pest is contamination.
Looper larvae are light green with a white lateral stripe down each side, and display characteristic movement – ‘looping’ along the leaf surface by gathering the rear legs to meet the front legs and then extending forward. More info on loopers is available here.