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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

A red baler hitched to the back of an orange tractor drops a new, round bale of hay into a field.
Filed Under: Forages, Insects-Forage Pests August 24, 2018

Forage growers in Mississippi are trying to keep insects from making meals out of their hayfields and compromising their stockpiles of winter feed.

A hat rests on the ground next to a man kneeling down to examine grass.
Filed Under: Insects-Forage Pests, Turfgrass and Lawn Management August 10, 2018

Sod production is a year-round process for Mississippi producers, and demand is up for this valuable commodity.

Jay McCurdy, turf specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the state’s producers are having a good year with this grass crop.

A paper wasp on a multi-cell nest.
Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests, Insects-Forage Pests, Fire Ants, Household Insects, Insect Identification, Termites, Insects-Home Lawns, Insects-Pests July 31, 2018

Mississippi has an abundance of bugs, especially in the warmer months. We are all familiar with mosquitoes, bumblebees, and house flies. But I bet there are bugs around your house and yard that you can’t identify. (Photo by Blake Layton)

A man’s hands are pictured holding a stem of grass.
Filed Under: Forages, Insects-Forage Pests June 8, 2018

A long, cool spring put Mississippi hay production about two weeks behind schedule, but a long, hot summer can give producers the chance to catch up.

Rocky Lemus, Mississippi State University Extension Service forage specialist, said he expects a good year for forages.

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.

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