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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.

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News

Mississippi is home to several species of cicadas, including this annual cicada. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Insects-Forage Pests December 21, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- While many humans anticipate making certain changes with the arrival of a new year, certain insects have much different life cycles.

Periodical cicadas may anticipate emerging from the ground in 2016, while others may simply have to wait a few more years to see the light of day.

Cicadas are curious creatures. From beady eyes on the sides of their heads to prominent veins stretching across their glassy wings, they seem to be created from the Twilight Zone. Yet, they produce one the most common sounds of summer.

Fire ant mounds are common along fence lines where they are protected from grass-cutting equipment and other traffic, such as this mound in an Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, pasture on May 11, 2015. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Forages, Insects-Forage Pests, Fire Ants May 19, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Southern farmers may never win the battle against imported fire ants, but aggressive tactics can slow the pests’ invasion, reduce damage and prevent further spread across the United States.

Jane Parish is an Extension/research professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. She said cattle and hay producers have learned to live with and work around the troublesome ants since the pests arrived in the state almost a century ago.

The biggest reason people have trouble controlling fire ants is that they only treat individual fire ant mounds. Individual mound treatments can be useful situationally, but need to be supplemented with broadcast treatments that will control all fire ants in all areas. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Agriculture, Insects-Crop Pests, Insects-Forage Pests, Insects, Fire Ants, Insects-Pests May 15, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- People have many misconceptions on how to eliminate fire ant mounds and prevent them from coming back, and these erroneous beliefs hinder efforts to keep the harmful pest from spreading.

Simpson County producer Jimmy Welch's hayfield shows damage from Bermuda grass stem maggots on July 24, 2014. The pest feeds in the tips of developing stems. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Susan Collins-Smith)
Filed Under: Forages, Insects-Forage Pests, Turfgrass and Lawn Management July 25, 2014

JACKSON -- Turf and forage producers in Mississippi need fewer clouds and more sunshine.

In 2014, forage producers raised an estimated 600,000 acres of hay across the state. There are about 60 farms producing sod for sale in the state.

Turf production…

The unusually harsh winter melted into a cool, wet spring and summer, which slowed spring growth and intensified diseases and last fall’s herbicide injury in sod, said Jay McCurdy, turf grass specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Rocky Lemus, forage specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, examines stem maggot damage on the tips of bermudagrass growing in research plots in the forage unit at the Henry H. Leveck Animal Research Farm in Starkville on Aug. 7, 2013. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Forages, Insects-Forage Pests August 9, 2013

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Forage producers and their livestock are not the only ones admiring the plentiful bermudagrass fields and pastures across the state this year.

Another invasive insect has arrived in Mississippi, this time to take a bite out of potentially strong hay yields. Stem maggots are joining the list of invasive species in the state that includes fire ants, fall armyworms, kudzu bugs, and once upon a time, boll weevils.

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Entomology; extension insect identification; fire ants; termites; insect pests in the home, lawn and