Armyworms Spotted in Farm Fields Across Vermont: This Week’s Industry News

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Armyworms Spotted in Farm Fields Across Vermont
Armyworms have been spotted in several locations across Vermont in recent days including on Addison, Orange and Franklin County farms. It is critical that farmers scout their corn and grass fields for these pests. True Armyworm, (Pseudaletia unipuncta) is typically seen on some acreage in Vermont each year. Agronomists with University of Vermont Extension predict that the state may see higher populations of this pest this year given the mild winter weather experienced across the U.S. It is important for farmers and consultants to monitor fields on a regular basis. At high populations, armyworms can create significant damage very quickly. When mature, armyworm caterpillars can be almost 1.5 inches long. They are usually greenish or brownish, but can be almost black. The sides and back of the caterpillar have light colored stripes running along the body. They normally feed at night and can cause much damage before they mature. The crops that are most affected are field corn, grass hay (timothy), pasture and grains. However, they will feed on other plants if these crops are unavailable. They will start feeding on the lower leaves and move upwards. A large population of armyworm caterpillars can strip an entire field in just a few days. When the field is eaten, they “march” to adjacent fields. Corn fields that are reduced or no-tilled or fields infested with grass weeds are particularly susceptible.