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Posted by feww on June 17, 2012

Armyworms devour crops at dozens of farms in western and northern New York

The worms were first detected near Lake Erie, and later spread east from Buffalo to the Hudson Valley region before marching north, reports said.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Services Agency (FSA) earlier announced that it can file weather related disaster reports for damage caused by armyworms because they have arrived earlier than expected and in unprecedented numbers due to the unseasonable warm weather this spring.

USDA will declare disaster in areas devastated by the armyworms infestation, when county-wide losses of 30% or more  occurs.

“Michael E. Hunter, field crops educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, said the outbreak at farms north of the Black River was caused by another wave of moths that traveled north from Western New York to hatch the destructive worms in hayfields,” said a report.

“I’ve covered thousands of acres and have found army worms in every field,” Mr. Hunter said Friday. Farms in Clayton, Orleans and Alexandria Bay were all infested. “There’s probably a good chance that most people have them right now.”

Four stages of armyworm development. Image Source: NCSU.

Description (Source: NCSU)

  • Adult– The true armyworm moth has grayish-brown forewings, each with a white spot near the center, and grayish-white hind wings. The wingspan averages 38.5 mm.
  • Egg – The minute, greenish-white egg is globular in shape.
  • Larva – The young armyworm is pale green. The mature larva is basically yellowish or brownish-green with a tan or greenish-brown head mottled with darker brown. The smooth, practically hairless body is marked with three dark longitudinal stripes, one along each side and one down the back. A full-grown armyworm is 30 to 35 mm long.
  • Pupa – The reddish-brown 13-mm-long pupa darkens gradually until it is almost black.

Fall armyworm larvae are tan or green to nearly black caterpillars with three yellow hair lines down the back and a wider one on each side. Prominent white markings form an upside down Y on the front of the head readily distinguishing it from other armyworms. Full-grown larvae may attain a length of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Source: Texas A&M University/ College of Agriculture

Egg mass of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith). –USDA

Hatching first instar larvae of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith). –USDA

Cross section of a tunnel showing a pupa of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith). The Diapetimorpha introita wasp is preparing to lay an egg in the pupal tunnel.  Photograph by: Scott Bauer, USDA [Source: UF]

Fall Armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda Smith, grows to about 1½ inches long and is identified by a distinct inverted ‘Y’ on the head. They are called armyworms because they march in endless numbers from one field to another, devouring grasses, everything from hay to wheat.

A battalion of armyworms.

Fall armyworm damage corn cobs. –USDA

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