Fall Armyworm Alert 2014

— Written By NC State Extension

Insects are difficult to predict and that is especially true this year. Fall armyworms are generally a late-season pest, and we are just entering the time when they may become a problem. Armyworm activity has already been detected, and there is still enough time for another two generations this season. So far, the lush plant growth resulting from substantial rainfall has provided plenty of food for these insects, and prevented them from doing a substantial amount of damage. However, if the weather pattern were to change to dryer conditions, armyworm activity could become concentrated in irrigated turf. Therefore, turf managers should start conducting regular scouting for armyworms, and be prepared implement control if necessary.

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. Areas where flocks of birds are seen feeding in the turf should be checked immediately, as the birds may be feeding on armyworms. Once they are detected, border sprays are a cost effective means of control.