Large numbers of fall armyworms invade Kentucky lawns and crops

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Public Relations) – An annual pest has a big impact this year as large numbers of fall armyworms damage lawns, crops and pastures across Kentucky.

Fall armyworm is an annual migratory pest that attacks Kentucky crops and pastures to some extent each year. Therefore, growers are familiar with scouting for the insect and how to control it.

However, fall armyworms generally do not invade lawns in high numbers that entomologists at the University of Kentucky are receiving reports this year.

“I am hearing reports from my colleagues in the South that this may be the worst fall armyworm outbreak since 1977,” said Jonathan Larson, extension entomologist at the British College of Agriculture, Food and Agriculture. the environment. “We have received calls from local golf courses, homes and lawn centers regarding turf damage, which is unusual.”

The first sign of fall armyworm damage to a yard is an area that appears to be looking stressed by drought. This spot will spread or other spots will appear as the worms move on the lawn. Fall armyworms tend to feed 24/7 and are hidden in the lower area of ​​the turf. Homeowners can throw a jug of soapy water on their lawn to bring worms to the surface.

Caterpillars have a distinct “Y” shape at the back of their head and three stripes that run down the middle of their body.

Princeton Integrated Pest Management Traps began reporting their first sightings of fall armyworms in May of this year.

Fall armyworms will remain active until the first frost of the season.

Larson said fall armyworms are too advanced in their development for organic pest control methods to be effective. If the pest is found in large numbers, owners can spray an insecticide containing either a pyrethroid (such as bifenthrin or lambda-cyhalothrin) or carbaryl. Homeowners will need to renovate damaged areas of turf as it is unlikely to bounce back. Some may also choose to do nothing to control the insect and simply renovate their lawn next spring.

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