One pest that is becoming more common is the yellow-striped armyworm. This pest has a wide host range and will feed on tomato, pepper, cole crops, and leafy vegetables. It is not specifically listed in the Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (ID-36) because, in the past, it was relatively uncommon. However, in the past few years, we have seen yellow-striped armyworm at levels comparable or higher than that of corn earworm (also known as tomato fruitworm).
Plant Damage & Insect Description
Yellow-striped armyworm, like tomato fruitworm, attacks tomato and pepper fruit and chews holes in the sides of fruit. Both pests will create half-inch diameter holes, often with multiple holes per fruit. They attack green fruit and remain outside the fruit while feeding. Young larvae are leaf feeders.
A yellow stripe on each side of the body and a dark spot on the first abdominal segment distinguishes yellow-striped armyworm from the tomato fruitworm (Figure 1). Because both of these insects attack the fruit, they are direct pests.
Producers need to manage yellow-striped armyworm as they would tomato fruitworm. Insecticides listed in ID-36 for tomato fruitworm are also very effective against yellow-striped armyworm.
By Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist