True armyworm attacks wheat in northeastern counties

Published 1:15 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

True armyworm was spotted in early May in wheat crops across northeastern North Carolina, the first such outbreak in nearly 20 years, according to Dr. Dominic Reisig, associate professor and Extension specialist in Entomology and Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University.

He is urging farmers to scout their fields for armyworm larvae and signs of damage done to plant leaves.

“Larvae are difficult to find and often feed at night,” Dr. Reisig explained. “Look for injury on the lower leaves resembling irregular chewing, resulting in defoliation. Bird activity around fields can also be a sign that armyworm larvae are present.”

Pyrethroids work well for management, but most have a 30 day pre-harvest interval restriction, Dr. Reisig advised.

He suggested that, given the cold winter, this outbreak likely represents migratory moths that moved in from the south several weeks ago.