Addressing Fall Armyworm Reports in Tennessee: What You Need to Know
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is addressing the surge in fall armyworm reports in the state. While concerns rise due to their northward migration, experts emphasize that the impact on local lawns and row crop farms should remain relatively low.
Fall Armyworm Population Has Grown
Sebe Brown, an Extension specialist and researcher in the UT Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, explains that current reports indicate fall armyworms mainly affect pasture grasses such as hay. Although their population has grown compared to the previous year, it remains notably lower than the levels seen in 2021 when these pests caused damage to both row crops and turfgrass varieties.
Caution Should Be Taken for Treatment
Brown advises caution regarding treatment options. Products available at lawn and garden stores should only be applied if fall armyworms are already present. Proper scouting is crucial. Walking your lawn daily, similar to the process used by farmers, helps identify signs of fall armyworms, such as dead patches where they have eaten and an unusually high number of birds gathering to feed on the worms.
For farmers, regular scouting of hay pastures is crucial to ensure end-of-year profitability remains unaffected. Signs such as flocks of birds often mean the worms have already gathered in large numbers, potentially causing yield loss.
Life Cycles of a Fall Armyworm
The fall armyworm, the caterpillar stage of the fall armyworm moth, primarily feeds on grass, fresh sod, hay fields, and occasionally, summer and fall crops. Their lifespan is around twelve days, with the last couple of days being when they consume the most. Despite limited reports of damage this season, vigilance and timely action can help mitigate potential harm.
How to Protect Your Property
To protect your property, experts recommend treating as soon as you identify fall armyworm presence. Products are available at home improvement retailers, garden centers, and agriculture supply stores. Ensure proper application according to label instructions for effective management.
For more information on fall armyworms and treatment options, reach out to your local county Extension office. Your proactive approach can safeguard the health of your lawn and crops and minimize potential damage.