🐛 Armyworms

Armyworm Overview

The Armyworm is one of the most common pests in North America. Its name is derived from the way they travel across places in an army-like manner. Armyworms consume anything on their track. There are several species of Armyworm; many of them have a particular host plant while others feed on anything green. Armyworms primary source of food is grasses like oat, wheat and corn but they can also be a problem to vegetable crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, beets, beans, radish, sweet potato, carrot, pea, lettuce and onion.

Identification

Armyworm larvae vary in color from green to tan brown to black. There is long light orange and white and brown stripes that flow below their head capsule to the end on each side of their body. This smooth skin larva has a series of brown veins that gives them a blotchy look.

Armyworm at pupal stage remains in the brown shell just beneath the surface of the soil. The armyworm moth approximately measures 1 inch long with a 1 ½ inch wing size and light brown in color. This pest changes its color as they develop and mature.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of armyworms begins when a group of eggs is laid by the adult female on the base of plants or leaves of grasses. After 5-10 days, tiny caterpillars hatch and feed for many weeks. These larvae are light green in color with looping movements. Armyworm larvae are very active at night feeding on their host plants while you can find them during the day below the plant debris. They will pupate and after completing 6 instars within 1-2 weeks, the adult armyworms emerge. More than three generations occur every season.

Damage

Armyworm infestations usually start in areas where grass grows. Larvae are also fond of feeding on small grains, corns and vegetable crops causing extensive damages. They consume leaf tissue and chew the leaves of the host plant until they will look like skeletons. Armyworms can strip the leaf margins and move to the next host plant to continue feeding.

Control

If pest numbers are low using predators like birds can help in controlling the number of armyworms. However, if this is an outbreak, using pesticides that can kill them is the best option. Another simple way to control this pest is by keeping the turf neatly trimmed can also help in reducing their numbers. Hand-picking them and dropping to a bucket of soapy water can also be effective.

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