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Groundnut redhairy caterpillar


About Hairy caterpillars

  • Several species of hairy caterpillars attack groundnut.
  • Two species of red hairy caterpillars are important. While one species is found in south India, the other one in the northern states.
  • Both species can be devastating, but are highly sporadic.
  • Earlier they were key pests of groundnut. Now they are unpredictably important in isolated pockets.

The adults are white moths with brownish forewings (Fig.1).

white moths with brownish forewings

The adults emerge from the soil at the onset of the southwest monsoon (usually in June).
Females lay 800-1000 eggs in clusters of 50-100 on groundnut and other host plants.
The larvae are initially light brown, but turn reddish as they grow.
Their 'hairiness' makes them conspicuous, especially the larger ones.
They devastate groundnut foliage and then migrate to the next groundnut field.

About Bihar Hairy Caterpillars
Bihar hairy caterpillar is widely distributed in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh in India.
The adult is a brown moth. The forewings have black spots and the abdomen is red.
Eggs are laid in clusters of 50-100.
The larvae (which can measure up to 5 cm) are covered with long yellowish to black hairs (Fig.2).

larvae covered with long yellowish to black hairs

Their damage to groundnut foliage is similar to that of other species of hairy caterpillars.

Crop Damage
Hairy caterpillars scarp the under surface of the leaf in their early stages.
The scrapped patches of the leaves can be easily detected. Full-grown larvae devour the entire foliage, flowers and growing points.


  • Hand picking of larvae, and collection and destruction of egg masses are effective in reducing the larval population.
  • Planting of barnyard millet around the groundnut field may act as strong physical barrier. Such a barrier reduces the cost of insecticide use.
  • Use of light traps soon after the monsoon for 20-45 days and collecting and killing of adult moths are effective.
  • Migrating larvae of hairy caterpillar from one field to another can be checked by digging trenches across the direction of their march, and destroy them.
  • Distribute small balls of poison bait in the field preferably during evenings. The poison bait is prepared by mixing 10 kg rice bran,1 kg jaggery and one liter Quinolphos.
  • Dusting of Carbaryl or Quinolphos at 25-30 kg/ha controls young larvae.
  • Use of 200 ml Dichlorovos 100 EC dissolved in 400 liters of water/ha may be used to control grown up caterpillars. or
  • Spray Endosulfan 2 ml or Dimethiate 2 ml or Monocrotophos 1.6 ml/liter of water.
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