Extension declares war on armyworm

COUDERSPORT Many areas across Pennsylvania have been reporting significant numbers of Fall Armyworm, a pest in hay, turf, small grains and corn.

Reports of "nothing but mud" left in some hay fields, particularly new seeding of farms, lawns and right-of-ways.

John Tooker, entomologist at Penn State suggests, "We are not worried about just a few caterpillars. If you find more than two to three caterpillars per square foot, it will likely be economical to treat that population. If you find damage, but the caterpillars are absent, look at adjacent fields to see where they might have moved.

"They can feed in many crop species but are known to damage corn and soybeans. Their feeding in corn should be limited by aboveground Bt traits," said Tooker.

Before spraying your lawn or hayfield there are a few things to think about, how many and how large are the caterpillars? Are they done feeding or will they move to a nearby crop or plant?

Most caterpillars are now over an inch in size, so popular pyrethroids will not work. Preventative measures do not need to be taken as the pest is sporadic and may not occur again.

Lawns with severe defoliation may come back and should be monitored. It is getting late to reseed perennial grasses in Northern Pennsylvania, so decisions to over seed will need to be made quickly or delayed until late winter or early spring.

For help deciding on control measures, contact the Clarion County Extension office at (814) 223-9028 or visit extension.psu.edu.