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Agricultural News

Your Lawn Is Gone? OSU's Tom Royer Helps Explain Oklahoma's Armyworm Infestation

Thu, 19 Aug 2021 11:02:25 CDT

Your Lawn Is Gone? OSU's Tom Royer Helps Explain Oklahoma's Armyworm Infestation Oklahoma State University Extension Specialist for Small Grains and Row Crop Entomology, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Tom Royer met with Radio Oklahoma’s own KC Sheperd about Oklahoma’s armyworm infestation.

Homeowners across Oklahoma are getting a taste of what crop farmers deal with year after year: pests! And they are not happy, Royer said. That is because this year’s plague of armyworms has an appetite for grass, particularly lawns and pasture, Royer added.

These worms are dangerous for lush, summer lawns, Royer said. After they hatch, they are nearly unnoticeable, but after molting six times as caterpillars they reach maximum size before turning into a pupa.

“They literally can take a lawn out overnight,” Royer said. “Entomologists have done feeding studies on these things, and they eat about 70% of all the foliage that they’ll ever eat as a caterpillar in that last two to three days of their last instar.”

Early evidence of armyworms are small cutouts from leaves, resembling windowpanes, Royer said. That is because immature armyworms are not strong enough to chew through leaves. If you are unsure whether you have an armyworm infestation, Royer advised mixing two tablespoons of whatever dish soap you have on hand and water in a two-to-one ratio and pour that over a small area of your lawn. If you’re an unlucky Oklahoman, irritated armyworms will wiggle into sight.

“One of the other things I’m concerned about is there’s a lot of producers that grow grass hay that they put up to feed their cattle in the wintertime and they rely on that as their winter feed,” Royer said. “They have to be out checking their grass pastures as well because (armyworms) can do the same thing to a grass pasture, that they can do to a lawn.”

Armyworm infestations can be hit and miss, so Royer suggested people monitor their grass whether neighbors are dealing with armyworms.

“When flights (of armyworm moths) come in, its not necessarily a uniform thing,” Royer said. “They pick and choose where they’re going to lay their eggs… one female armyworm moth can lay 50 to 400 eggs.”

For producers with pasture and homeowners, the good news is there is a fix and the earlier you catch an infestation, the less damage you will sustain, Royer said.

For homeowners, OSU has this list of pesticides that will do an army of armyworms in.

For producers treating armyworms in their pastures, OSU has this list of pesticides to use.

For everyone, OSU has produced a guide on armyworm identification with plant specific combat tactics.

Click or tap the LISTEN BAR below to hear KC’s entire conversation with Dr. Rom Royer, on more of Oklahoma’s pest concerns.



Listen to KC's conversation with Tom here
right-click to download mp3


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