2016-08-18 / Opinions

Army worms in Wilkes County

County Extension Coordinator

There have been several reports of armyworms in the last couple of weeks. With grass already short farmers should certainly be on the lookout for this pest. The presence of birds in the fields can be an indicator that armyworms are present but frequent checks up close are the only sure way to catch the worms early.

Normally, I would not recommend spraying for armyworms because farmers usually can move cattle to other pastures or in the case of hayfields they may go on and cut the hay. Most farmers need to save every blade of grass they can and in many cases the cost of spraying may be justified this year.

In the case of the hayfield, one must determine if there is enough hay present to justify running the equipment over the field. If so, this is most likely the best solution. If not, then you must decide if you think the grass will make enough growth to justify the cost of spraying.

Pastures that are already grazed into the ground may not respond enough from spraying to justify the cost. I wouldn’t think the worms could survive long in these conditions anyway. Pastures that have received some rain and have more grazing available will require careful thought to determine if the additional grass gained from spraying will offset the cost.

In the past, farmers have mentioned to me that they got successful results by using a combination of Lannate and Sevin. Lannate gives a quick kill but does not last long. Sevin, while weak on the worms, has a longer residual and therefore helps to prevent re-infestation from future moth flights. One farmer told me he had success with Toombstone which was cheaper than the Lannate/Sevin combination. Other materials similarly labelled may give good results when properly applied. I’m sure the local dealers will be glad to tell you what has worked for other customers. Farmers should be aware of grazing restrictions as listed on the label. Some products require that cattle be removed for several days or weeks after spraying.

Return to top