How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines



Scientific names:
Beet webworm: Loxostege sticticalis
Alfalfa webworm: Loxostege cereralis
Garden webworm: Achyra rantalis

(Reviewed 11/05, updated 1/10, pesticides updated 9/16)

In this Guideline:


Webworms overwinter as larvae or pupae and emerge in early spring. Adults are small buff to smoky brown colored moths that are active at night. They may be readily observed flying out of the foliage during the day as you walk through the field. Eggs are small, yellow or green in color, and laid in groups of 2 to 20 on the underside of leaves. Beet webworm eggs are laid end to end, while those of the alfalfa webworm are in overlapping groups. The beet webworm is dark green on hatching; mature larvae are about 1.5 inches long and olive green in color with a dark band running along the center of the back and lighter stripes on each side. The alfalfa webworm is yellowish to dark green with a broad light-colored stripe down the back and a darker stripe parallel to the light stripe. The garden webworm is also yellowish to green with a pale double stripe along the center of the back and a lighter line on each side of the body. The body also has numerous distinct black spots.


Damage caused by the three species of webworms is nearly identical. They consume large amounts of foliage by skeletonizing leaves, and can completely defoliate a field in a very short period of time. As they devour leaves, webworms spin a web, drawing leaves together or folding individual leaves together to form a tube in which they hide when disturbed.


Webworms are only occasional problems in sugarbeets. Plants can tolerate considerable defoliation and many biological control agents attack webworms. However, fields with populations of webworms should be closely monitored. If management is needed, choose materials such as Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad that have low impact on natural enemies.

Biological Control

Numerous parasites and predators have been reported on webworms. However, it is doubtful that any of these agents are capable of regulating webworm populations.

Cultural Control

Injury and defoliation appear to be worse in weedy fields. Therefore, keep fields weed-free, particularly free from pigweed and lambsquarters.

Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

No treatment thresholds are available for webworms. As with armyworms, the plants can tolerate considerable defoliation without yield loss. However, because of the rapidity with which webworm can defoliate plants, closely monitor fields in which webworms are active and apply a treatment if defoliation continues.

Common name Amount per acre REI‡ PHI‡
(Example trade name)   (hours) (days)

Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
Bee precaution pesticide ratings
The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Not all registered pesticides are listed. Always read the label of the product being used.
  (Intrepid 2F) 8–16 fl oz 4 7
  (various products) Label rates 4 0
  (Entrust)# 1.5–3 oz 4 3
  (Success) 4.5–10 fl oz 4 3
  COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 0.33 lb spinosad/acre per crop. Toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
    1/4–1 lb 48 See comments
  COMMENTS: Preharvest interval is 21 days for roots, 30 days for tops. Highly toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
# Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
* Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.



[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Sugarbeet
UC ANR Publication 3469

Insects and Mites

E.T. Natwick, UC Cooperative Extension Imperial County

Acknowledgement for contributions to Insects and Mites:
C. G. Summers, Entomology, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
D. R. Haviland, UC IPM Program and UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County
L. D. Godfrey, Entomology, UC Davis

Top of page

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

Accessibility   Contact webmaster.