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Fall Armyworms

“That field looked fine when I drove by it Wednesday afternoon, but when I came back to cut it on Saturday it was nothing but stems!”

Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is the most damaging insect pest of bermudagrass hayfields. These caterpillars can destroy an entire cutting of hay in just a couple of days. The reason for this rapid crop loss is that the caterpillars do 80 to 90% of their feeding in the last two to three days of their life. During the summer months fall armyworms remain in the caterpillar stage for around 10 to 14 days, but young caterpillars eat very little, and their damage is easy to overlook.

By the time they are ¾ to 1 inch long fall armyworm caterpillars are leaf-eating machines that rapidly consume large amounts of leaf area. Multiply the leaf consumption of a single caterpillar by the hundreds of thousands of caterpillars per acre that occur during heavy outbreaks, and it is easy to understand how fall armyworms can cause such rapid defoliation. This is why experienced cattlemen and hay producers learn to scout their fields every two to three days during periods when fall armyworms are a threat and to have their spray equipment ready to go.

See Extension Publication 2717, Fall Armyworms in Hayfields and Pastures for fall armyworm treatment recommendations and information on fall armyworm biology and how to best protect bermudagrass hayfields from this damaging pest.

Contact

Dr. Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist
Department of Entomology, Mississippi State University
Phone: (662) 325-2085
Email: blayton@entomology.msstate.edu

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Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp. representative Mike Mullendore checks one of the cone-shaped traps located near a Mississippi State University research field on June 27, 2017. The traps evolved from U.S. Department of Agriculture research at the Robey Wentworth Harned Laboratory, commonly known as the Boll Weevil Research Lab at MSU. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Cotton, Insects-Crop Pests August 24, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cotton will always have challenges, but few of them will ever compare to the boll weevils that thrived in Mississippi from 1904 until 2009.

“It is nearly impossible for this younger generation of consultants, scouts and growers to understand how hard boll weevils were to control and how much boll weevil control hurt beneficial insects and complicated cotton management,” said Will McCarty, who served as the Mississippi State University Extension Service cotton specialist during “the boll weevil wars.”

Award-winning farmer Paul Good examines cotton growing in Noxubee County during a Mississippi State University field tour on July 12, 2017. Good said he remembers a time when farmers did not grow cotton in the area, mostly because of boll weevils. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Cotton, Insects-Crop Pests August 24, 2017

MACON, Miss. -- Farmers' independent natures make them strong, but when agricultural producers join forces, they can take success to the next level.

Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, commended Mississippi farmers for their efforts to unite in the battle to eradicate boll weevils from the state.

“Historically, boll weevils were the prime pest in cotton fields. To control them, it took numerous pesticide applications,” he said. “Those treatments were costly and ate into the growers’ profit margins.”

Redbanded stinkbugs, such as this pest seen Aug. 17, 2017, on a soybean plant at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Mississippi, are very damaging, invasive pests showing up in large numbers this year in fields across the Southeast. (Photo by MSU Delta Research and Extension Center/Don Cook)
Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests August 18, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Farmers in Mississippi and the Southeast are urged to scout their fields closely for the redbanded stinkbug, a very damaging pest of soybeans that is being found in increasing numbers across the region.

Mississippi State University Extension Service specialists and researchers joined with their counterparts and crop consultants from Arkansas and Louisiana Thursday for an emergency forum on this dangerous insect.

Due to recent heavy rains, many producers have been unable to effectively treat soybean fields for Redbanded stink bugs, a significant and less common insect pest in areas of the Southeast. An emergency forum will be held at 2 p.m. on Aug. 17 at the Capps Center in Stoneville, Mississippi, to address producer concerns. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Angus Catchot)
Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests August 14, 2017

STONEVILLE, Miss. -- In response to producer concern over a significant agricultural pest, the Mississippi State University Extension Service will host a forum on Aug. 17.

The free ArkLaMiss Emergency Forum on Redbanded stink bugs will be at 2 p.m. at the Capps Center in Stoneville on the campus of the Delta Research and Extension Center. University researchers, Extension specialists and crop consultants from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi will share the latest data and management recommendations.

Fall armyworms plague many Mississippi pastures, lawns and sports fields, but vigilance and prompt treatment can limit their damage. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Blake Layton)
Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests, Insects-Home Lawns, Turfgrass and Lawn Management June 23, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Although 2016 brought unusually heavy infestations of and damage from fall armyworms, vigilance and prompt treatment can limit damage this year.

Blake Layton, entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said fall armyworms were a problem in commercial hayfields, home lawns, sports fields, golf courses and commercial landscapes last year.

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