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Armyworms – All Types of Information Related to Armyworms

July 19, 2018
Armyworms

All Types of Information Related to Armyworms

As its name suggests, armyworms are not the typical worms that one may be used to. In fact, these insects are caterpillars and are the larvae stage of the armyworm moth. They are also popularly known as crop and turf feeders. Some breed of caterpillars are known to have an unending appetite and the armyworm is definitely one of them. They can be a source of a potential headache for homeowners as well as commercial plantation growers and agriculturalists as they can devour a vegetation within a very short time!

Before turning to the moth stage, they usually arrive in droves and can completely take over a landscape and hence the name does enough justice for them. The insect is infamous for scourging and destroying swathes of land but with timely intervention, their march can be checked and they can be eliminated. In the following sections, we take a look at many aspects of this insect and the ways of thwarting their attempt.

1. The Appearance of Armyworms

Armyworms

source: https://beetlesinthebush.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/quick-guide-to-armyworms-on-soybean/

During the initial period of their growth, armyworms are tan or light green in color. As they tend to attain maturity, their body color changes to brown or dark green. From the armyworms buying guide, a person can be sure to get these hairless insects in a series of stripes on their bodies. These stripes can be brown, yellow or green in color.

These insects usually go through 4 growth stages of life that includes egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. Eggs are usually deposited in the range of 1500-2000 in number by an armyworm moth and they hardly take 1 to 3 days for converting into larvae. Full-grown larvae of an armyworm moth can be about 1.5 to 2 inches in length. After they convert into adults, their only aim is to lay eggs so that more armyworms can be produced.

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These insects life cycle is from 30 to 60 days in summer to early fall whereas, in winter, they can be alive for up to 90 days! Due to this quick life cycle, they can breed and multiply really fast. When there is a swarm of armyworm moths laying eggs in one’s vicinity, that can be quite a panic situation for the people responsible for the area and the best repellents to kill armyworms may have to be used.

2. Habitation and Signs of Armyworm 

Habitation and Signs of Armyworm 

source: http://mariewinnnaturenews.blogspot.com/2006_09_03_archive.html

Armyworm moths travel in air currents and are transported in huge numbers from one place to another. As soon as this type of exodus happens, within a week, armyworms lay their eggs and a whole new bunch hatches. Homeowners and farmers can look out for their signs and expect their arrival somewhere near August.

Armyworms like to stay and thrive in moist and warm climatic condition. They are abundantly found across the entire United States, Russia, Africa, Canada and Australia. These insects like to eat seeding crops that may include wheat, sorghum, soybeans, hay, grain, fescue and many other types of grasses. Armyworms can also be expected to infest corn fields and cotton plantations. Once these worms infest an area, they can be expected to be there till the first freezing wave arrives through which they get eliminated.

3. Stay Alert Towards This Pest 

Armyworms

source: https://www.buzzercast.com/en/economic2/food-and-agriculture-organization-launches-guide-to-tackle-fall-armyworm-in-africa

It is important to stay alert and notice any sign of their presence. It is because they can devour and raise plantations within a very short time and that can be quite frustrating for anyone. They can wreak havoc to hayfields and pastures together with the crops that are available. However, even the mildest of winter can be enough to neutralize them and that is one of the advantages of getting rid of them.

Anyway, till winter does not approach, it is better to look out for their early signs and to meet this objective, armyworms buying guide can be helpful. It can effectively tell that flocks of birds can be a very nice way for their detection. If there are sightings of birds feeding off on the lawn outside, care should always be taken to examine it. This is due to the fact that birds are predators for them and their presence can be a good way for the worm’s availability. Therefore, the next time you see a flock of birds on the lawn, it can be a wise idea to examine the area for any armyworm presence.

3. Checking the Turf Outside 

chack

source: https://www.bunnings.com.au/diy-advice/garden/lawn/how-to-lay-synthetic-turf

Before investing in the best repellents to kill armyworm, it is always a wise idea to ensure that they are present in numbers. Hence, one should check the turf for their presence and this can be done at least through two DIY (Do It Yourself) ways.

The first process involves mixing two tablespoons of lemon-scented dishwashing detergent to about one gallon of water and pouring this mixture over an area of one square foot area of the lawn. If there is any armyworm around the lawn, they can be expected to rise upon the sod. If there is no armyworm, then one can stay assured of their absence.

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The second method involves getting a bucket of soapy water and a gallon can with both ends removed. Place the gallon can on the lawn and pour the soapy water in it. If there is any armyworm, it will start floating on the surface of the can and people can plan further.

4. Controlling and Treating Armyworms 

control Armyworms 

source: https://www.africanfarming.com/south-african-systems-set-pest-invasions/

If there is an armyworm attack in your farm or agricultural plantation, first and foremost, it is very important to ensure that preventive steps are taken quickly so that the damage can be reduced due to them. Any armyworms buying guide will tell this and therefore, it is important to plan early against the menace.

They can be pretty fast in wiping out an entire lawn within a day if their operation is not checked within a small time. To deal with them effectively, there are ideally two options that can be taken. First, people can purchase a product from a hardware store and use it directly as per the instructions provided, this is more of a DIY type of option. The other way is to take the help of professional pest management firms for their elimination. However, most hardware stores may have a product that can be more of a broad spectrum pest control option that can be attached to a hose and sprayed over the affected place.

Also, these type of chemicals will be mostly synthetic pesticides. The chemical sprays from them can be threatening and may further contaminate the environment and cause health risks to livestock, biodiversity and even humans.

Pest control companies may offer many types of pest control products that need a license for use and can be very effective in dealing with armyworms. Anyway, it is also important to get in touch with them as soon as possible because in case of a massive outbreak service companies can also get overrun by calls and may not be able to help at the right time.

There are also some other ways of dealing with the menace like the usage of pheromone traps, parasitoids, natural enemies, predators and even handpicking of caterpillars and adults. Some other cultural control measures also involve fast disposal of the residual crop after a harvest and management of broadleaf weeds, etc.

– Organic Products can be Used to Neutralize Them – The situation in East Africa is quite threatening due to the fact that there is a massive invasion of the worm and even the best repellents to kill armyworms are not showing proper results. When maize and other crops have been planted, it has shown up and is coming up with deadly results. Higher temperature coupled with no rainfall provide the ideal place for them to multiply in droves.

In such a case, many farmers go for conventional chemicals for controlling them yet as explained above, not all of them are very effective in dealing with them. It is due to the fact that most chemical repellents are able to knock off the larvae but not the eggs so that when these finally hatch, their population again goes on increasing. It is also one of the reasons why the pest is difficult to control.

However, there are some organic control methods that are very helpful in regulating the hazard and can be used to control armyworms. We list here some of them that can be used in crops like maize and many other variants.

  • Nimbecidine – It is a biopesticide that is essentially derived from neem and is very helpful in controlling armyworms. In fact, the liquid is a useful option for dealing with aphids, mites, thrips, leafminers, whiteflies, wireworms and even nematodes in cabbages, beans, maize, potatoes and many other types of crops that may be under their threat. A very useful feature of Nimbecidine is that it is an antifeedant which essentially means that a pest may not be able to feed upon a target crop and that means the pest can be kept in check. Moreover, it also helps in ensuring that the pest does not lay eggs on the target crop, kept the crop sufficiently secured.
  • Pyrethrum – The white flowers of pyrethrum contain active ingredients which are known as pyrethrin. Armyworms buying guide lists pyrethrum as an effective strategy against the worms as its flowers can be picked up when it is dry and open. They can further be stored in dark and airtight containers so that their effectiveness gets reduced and they can get dried. Later on, the dried flower can be grounded to extract powder out of it.
Pyrethrum

source: http://extension.msstate.edu/newsletters/bugs-eye-view/2016/pyrethrum-daisy-vol-2-no-10

Usage of Pyrethrum Extract – Mix 20 grams of pyrethrum powder on 10 liters of water. In it, add soap for sticking and spreading and use it at the affected area in the evening to get a satisfactory result. Just like neem, garlic can also repel most pests due to its antifeedant properties.

  • Making the Solution – In 50 ml of vegetable oil, add 85 grams of smashed garlic and mix well. In this, add 10 ml of bar soap and allow the mixture to rest for a day. Add vegetable oil emulsion and 50 ml of garlic in a liter of water and shake vigorously so that the complete mixture is homogeneous. It can easily be sprayed in the evenings when armyworms come out in large numbers for completing their feeding.
  • Natural Methods – There are predators for these worms and the exact ones may be listed in an armyworms buying guide. Insects, birds and other types of predators can help in reducing the number of these worms in an area. However, if their number is still high, it may be due to the reason that the same pest that has been used to get rid of these worms have been more effective on their predators! Therefore, for eliminating these worms, it is very important to ensure that beneficial species that prey on these worms are retained so that they can help naturally in limiting their numbers.
  • Pheromone Traps – These traps are one of the best repellents to kill armyworms and can help in capturing the moth. On the forewings of these moths, there is specific white dot and hence close inspection should be carried out on the crops to detect their presence.
  • During the starting of the spring season, it is beneficial to look out for any sign of damage and the larvae of armyworm. Caterpillars usually feed on new growth and on the underside of leaves. Try recognizing them easily and do not be tempted to crush them in between thumbs. Rather, it is a wise idea to drop them in soapy water.
  • Using Trichogramma Wasps – Trichogramma wasps can be very effective in getting rid of these worms. This 1 mm or less, tiny wasps helps in inserting their own eggs inside the pest’s egg so that they get neutralized before developing into the larval stage when they cause the maximum damage.
  • Using other Beneficial Insects – Beneficial insects like minute pirate bugs, ladybugs and lacewings can help in reducing armyworms population because they eat up the worm’s eggs and larvae, thereby helping to keep them in check. Additionally, they can also be useful for controlling other pests like aphids, cutworms, mites, earworms and many types of insect eggs.
Plants Attract Birds and Beneficial Insects

source: https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Gardening/diggin-it/2011/0318/Native-plants-help-birds-and-small-wildlife

  • Plants Attract Birds and Beneficial Insects – Most armyworms buying guide can inform that birds are especially fond of armyworm moths and eat their larvae in droves from plants and lawns. Therefore, during the fall, it can be a good way to turn the soil before putting it to bed so that any pupae can be easily exposed and birds can easily feed on them.
  • Taking Help of Nematodes – If there is a heavy infestation of armyworms or there is any concern that the worms may strike in the cool spring season, it is always good to release nematodes in the soil. These microscopic creatures feed on the larvae, pupae, and eggs of some 200 insect variants yet they do not threaten any human existence. Moreover, they are not at all dangerous for amphibians, do not harm plants, earthworms, honey bees and do not interfere with beneficial insects like the Trichogramma wasps. However, they are very effective on armyworm eggs and pupae and helps in neutralizing them effectively.
  • Some Types of Sprays – Using OMRI-listed Monterey Garden Insect Spray (spinosad) or Garden Dust (Bt-kurstaki) can be quite helpful in getting rid of caterpillars.
  • Other Types of Sprays – If some part of the season has already passed by, armyworms buying guide can also suggest the use of natural horticultural oil sprays. Worm infestations can be easily controlled using these sprays. Then there is also the multi-purpose neem oil spray. It is also very effective in different stages of larvae formation and in eliminating many types of mites. Fungus growth can also be limited using it. These sprays can ensure complete coverage and they must be sprayed at the junctions of stems and leaf undersides, that are the most ideal places for their breeding and resting.
  • There are Fast Acting Solutions too – In addition to all the above mentioned best repellents to kill armyworms, if there is still some present or there is an urgent need to limit them, then the best way can be to use fast acting organic insecticides. These are toxic substances but anyway very less toxic than synthetic chemicals due to the fact that the ingredients are botanical in nature. They are made from plants and have superb insecticidal properties and can be used for instant relief.

5. Conclusion 

In the preceding section, we have seen all about armyworms and how they can be devastating in nature. However, if proper corrective measures are taken in time, they can easily be controlled. However, usage of synthetic chemicals for their elimination should not be carried out as these can be unhealthy in the long run. Rather, natural and botanical options may be used, a majority of which has been discussed here. Therefore, we can rightly conclude that armyworms can be countered if detected within time and any cultivation, harvest, agricultural area or lawn can easily be saved from their attack.

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