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Armyworm Alert

July 29, 2013
by Rick Brandenburg

A fall armyworm larva
Fall armyworm larva
An adult fall armyworm
Fall armyworm adult
Damage to grass by fall armyworms
Fall armyworm damage

Although the cool spring may have delayed the development of some insects, others may be earlier than expected. Fall armyworms do not overwinter in NC, and the timing of infestations depends on when the egg-laying moths migrate north from Florida and the Gulf coast. They are generally a late-season pest; however, fall armyworm eggs have already been spotted in the southeastern portion of the state. This may indicate that the moths have arrived early due to weather fronts moving from the south.

Insects are difficult to predict and that is especially true this year. One thing that is predictable is that if one or two sites have armyworms, other sites may have them too. Armyworm moths lay their eggs on plants and other objects adjacent to the turf, and the caterpillars move in from the edge. On golf courses, the eggs are frequently seen on flags, right on the greens. The caterpillars move fast, so scouting and early detection are important. Once they are detected, border sprays are a cost effective means of control.

For more information on armyworm scouting and control see: http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/Insects/Default.aspx#IS004243