The Ravenous Armyworm
It’s that time of year again: color changing leaves, jack-o’lanterns, pumpkin pie, harvest, and… Armyworms.
Fall Armyworms are extremely rare and unpredictable pests that typically reside in southern states. Fall Armyworms love to feed on a variety of different plants including grass, hay, corn, and soybeans. These quick growing bugs aren’t picky about their meals.
These pests can significantly reduce the yield and influence on small farmers, causing a decline in both quality and quantity of this year's harvested crops. While these little caterpillars may not seem like a big deal, it’s affecting local farms more than one might think. In Linn County alone, dozens of farmers' fields are covered in Armyworms.
These nuisances were sent to Iowa due to the late tropical storms and hurricanes down south, bringing swarms of Armyworms right towards our fields. Armyworms love to feed on foliage in tall, unmowed grass, meaning they’re covering local hayfields. When the foliage is consumed, the plans will rapidly dehydrate, causing damage that resembles drought damage. It’s commonly recommended that for heavily damaged hayfields, fertilization is key for successful future hay crops. If there’s currently a large infestation in a close-to-ready hayfield, cutting the field is a good option. Resting pastures and restricted grazing is suggested for damaged pastures. There are a variety of different insecticides recommended for Fall Armyworms that can help prevent and manage them.
Fortunately for farmers, Fall Armyworms can’t survive even the mildest of winters, causing them to migrate down south once the warm weather starts to dwindle. Unfortunately, this means we still have a few more weeks before these pests are gone for good.
For more information visit Armyworms invade Iowa hayfields (iowafarmbureau.com)