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Tim Gibb, Extension Entomologist
(Photo by Ralph Booker, Extension Educator, Marshall County)
|Armyworm Larvae on Wheat
(Photo by Todd Hutson, Extension Educator, Fountain County)
|Pasture Damaged by Armyworm Feeding (Photo by Doug Akers, Extension Educator, Boone County)|
|Armyworm Infested Turf on Right and Normal Turf on Left (Photo by Doug Akers, Extension Educator, Boone County)||Closer Look at Armyworm Larvae in Turf (Photo by Doug Akers, Extension Educator, Boone County)||Closer View of Armyworm Larvae in Pasture (Photo by Doug Akers, Extension Educator, Boone County)|
|Close-up of Armyworm Larvae
(Photo by Walt Sell, Extension Educator, LaPorte County)
In the spring of 2001, Central and southern parts of Indiana reported large numbers of caterpillars damaging turf areas (as well as pastures). Many reports also came in of brownish-gray to buff colored moths congregating near homes and landscapes in the evening hours. The caterpillars and moths were identified as the armyworm caterpillar (Noctuidae: Pseudaletia unipuncta).
Armyworm larvae feed on leaves and stems of turf plants much like black cutworms, but the major difference between the two pests is that the much larger concentrations of armyworms (hence the name) cause more severe damage. Control can be obtained through a number of surface insecticides. Check the label for rates and specific precautions--only treat areas where infestations or damage is noticed, however.
Some damage to crops and other plants was reported, however, most damage was done by the first generation of the year. Later in the spring and summer, damage tapered off considerably as do the numbers of armyworms. Possibly, the unusual weather conditions early in the year in some way allowed the armyworms to increase to higher than normal populations. The result -- lots of the moths flying around lights and residences.
Homeowners should know that, although these moths are a nuisance and sometimes find their way into homes, they will not harm people, houses, or yards.
For more information on armyworm refer to:
Plant and Pest Digital Library and Digitally Assisted Diagnosis, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.