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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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News

Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests February 14, 2017

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Mississippi agronomic crop producers now have an important insect control reference guide available on their mobile devices.

"Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops," a publication of the Mississippi State University Extension Service, helps farmers estimate the performance of various insecticides on cotton, soybeans, corn, grain sorghum, small grains, rice and peanuts.

Brittany Lipsey, a Mississippi State University graduate student from Louisville, Mississippi, is researching management techniques that can be used to combat sugarcane aphids, helping sorghum farmers have a sustainable future with the crop. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Grains, Insects-Crop Pests October 21, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Fewer Mississippi producers are looking at grain sorghum as a crop rotation option since an introduced pest became a major problem, a trend Mississippi State University researchers are working to reverse.

The sugarcane aphid is a nonnative pest introduced to the United States in Florida in 1977. By the late 1990s, it had been found in Louisiana. In both states, the pest initially fed on sugarcane. At some point, the aphid began feeding on Johnsongrass, a significant weed found in sugarcane and other crops in the Midsouth.

Mississippi State University annually updates insect management recommendations so the state’s crop producers can rely on good data when making insect control decisions. The “Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops” includes information to help plan treatments for dozens of pests, including corn earworms, pictured here. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests January 22, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Knowing when to treat for insect pests in crops is vital to keeping yields high and controlling the costs of agricultural production.

Every year, the Mississippi State University Extension Service updates and publishes its “Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops.” The guide includes recommendations for nine crops, including the major row crops, as well as sweet potatoes and pastures.

Angus Catchot, MSU Extension Service entomologist, said all the recommendations in the insect control guide are based on research and tested in the field.

Mississippi State University plant pathologist Tom Allen (left) said fungicide-resistant frogeye leaf spot in soybeans has recently become a major problem. (Photo by MSU Extension/Kat Lawrence)  Producers rely on Mississippi State University recommendations to make management decisions related to kudzu bugs, such as these pictured (right), and other insect pests. (Photo by MSU Extension/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests, Weed Control for Crops, Plant Diseases October 30, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Farmers know how to handle ongoing threats posed by insects, diseases, and weeds, but new threats continue to surface that keep them on high alert and change the way they operate.

Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station researchers and MSU Extension Service specialists work to monitor the arrival of new crop threats, determine the best way to address the problem, and pass on those recommendations to producers.

Insect pests …

This grain sorghum plant in a Mississippi State University plot at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Mississippi, on Aug. 28, 2015, shows damage from extremely high populations of sugarcane aphids with no treatments applied. (File photo by MSU Delta Research and Extension Center/Jeff Gore)
Filed Under: Grains, Insects-Crop Pests October 29, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State University researchers have spent the last few years on the front lines protecting a $33 million dollar crop in Mississippi.

As grain sorghum production grew, producers had to fight off a new pest.

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