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Taking an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management


Integrated Pest & Crop Management



AUTHOR

Wayne C. Bailey
University of Missouri
Division of Plant Sciences
(573) 882-2838
baileyw@missouri.edu

Potential for True Armyworm Problems in Grass Crops

Wayne C. Bailey
University of Missouri
(573) 882-2838
baileyw@missouri.edu

Published: May 27, 2014

At present economic infestations of true armyworm are being found in several southern Missouri counties. Tall fescue seed and forage producers are most at risk from this pest. Grass producers in all areas of Missouri, but especially in southwest Missouri are encouraged to scout grass pastures and grass seed fields to determine the status of true armyworm larvae. Some fields have reached or exceeded the economic thresholds listed below and required an insecticide application for true armyworm control. Other crops attacked by true armyworm include wheat and occasionally corn. Legumes such as alfalfa and clovers are not fed upon by this pest. Moth numbers reported this spring have been lower than compared to past years with severe economic infestation of true armyworm.These moth data suggest that although some fields will experience economic infestations of true armyworm larvae that require control, many other fields across Southern Missouri may not reach economic infestation thresholds. At present, tall fescue seed and grass, wheat, and corn producers are encourage to scout individual fields inorder to determine larval numbers of this pest.

About every four to five years the True armyworm, Mythimna unipuncta (formerly Pseudaletia unipuncta), is a moderate to serious pest of many grass crops in Missouri. Although larvae of this pest may attack a wide range of host plants, most problems in Missouri occur in tall fescue seed and forage fields, wheat and other small grain crops, and occasionally to field corn.Economic important infestations of true armyworm often develop when several factors occur at the same time to favor armyworm distribution and population increases. These factors include (1) emergence of high numbers of moths from overwintering sites in the state, (2) early spring migration of moths into Missouri from more Southern states, often helped by spring storms arriving from more southern locations, (3) reduced numbers of beneficial insects which allow for better survival of armyworm larvae, (4) the occurrence of cool, wet spring conditions which favor lush growth of tall fescue and wheat plants which serves as good egg laying and larval feeding sites, and (5) the natural rhythm of true armyworm populations which often peak about every four to five years in Missouri. All of these factors are present to some degree this spring and certainly increase the possibility of economic infestations of true armyworm developing in areas of the state where moth captures are occurring in relative high numbers.

Monitoring of true armyworm moth numbers are provided by the University of Missouri IPM program with the assistance numerous regional extension specialists who trap armyworm moths across the state and from meteorological data provided by the statewide system of commercial agriculture weather stations. Male true armyworm moths are captured using traps baited with a synthetic version of pheromones emitted naturally by the female armyworm moths to attract males.When numbers of male moths captured in traps reach levels of 100 to 200 or more moths per night for several nights, the potential for true armyworm problems in fields located within a few miles of the trap is elevated. If several traps within a region capture high numbers of moths for several nights in the spring, then true armyworm problems may cover several thousand acres of forages in the state similar to problems experienced with this pest a few years ago in north-central Missouri, where over 500,000 acres of tall fescue were heavily infested.

Wheat fields may also experience problems with true armyworm as larvae feed on foliage and occasionally will cut seed heads from developing wheat plants. In field corn, economic infestations of this pest are uncommon, but often cause severe defoliation when they occur. True armyworm moth capture counts can be found on-line at WWW.IPM.missouri.edu. At the site go to pest monitoring and select true armyworm. At this site you can view all moth capture numbers in the state or search for numbers by specific regions of the state. NOTE: Although elevated numbers of moth captures often result in economic infestations of true armyworm, in some years other factors (insect pathogens, predators and environmental conditions) may limit the development and growth of this pest.To determine risk from true armyworm larvae in specific fields, producers in areas of elevated moth captures are encouraged to scout for the presence of true armyworm larvae to determine larval armyworm numbers in their forage and crop fields.

Scouting for armyworm larvae is best accomplished during the night, early morning or late evening as newly hatched larvae avoid light and feed on the lower leaves of grasses during hours of reduced light intensity. As larvae grow in size, they will feed higher on the host plant even during daylight hours.True armyworm larvae grow through 7 or more larval or worm stages often referred to as “instars”. Larvae newly emerged from eggs are very tiny, but quickly grow to about 1 ½ inches in length when full grown. Larvae are greenish-brown in color with a pale stripe running the length of the back and an orange line running the length of each side of the larva. The head capsule is light brown in color and the body is generally smooth and mostly hairless. A good identifying characteristic for this insect in the larval stage is the presence of a dark brown to black triangle located on the outside of each of the four pairs of prologs found on the middle to back part of the insect body.The tip of the foot on each of these prologs is also dark in color if viewed from under the larvae looking outward.

If true armyworm larvae are present in grass, small grain, or field corn crops, use the following thresholds to determine if treatment is justified and recommended insecticides for each specific crop.

Insecticides Labeled for Use on True Armyworm in Tall Fescue Seed and Forage Fields, Grass Pastures, and Grass Hay Fields.

Comments:Occasional severe pest of grass seed and forage fields. Treat when an average of 4 or more half-grown or larger worms per square foot are present during late spring and before more than 2% to 3% of seed heads are cut from stems.Scout at dusk, dawn, or at night for best results. Small larvae feed on foliage at night and remain in plant debris near ground surface during day.

True Armyworm, Mythimna unipuncta former Pseudaletia unipuncta
Tall Fescue, Grass Pastures - 2014

Occasional severe pest of grass seed and forage fields. Treat when an average of 4 or more half-grown or larger worms (1/2 to 1 1/2 inch larvae) per square foot are present during late spring and before more than 2-3 percent of seed heads are cut from stems in tall fescue seed fields. Insecticides applied as foliar broadcasts.

Chemical name Trade name Rate of Formulated Material/Acre preharvest intervals

**Note, FMC recommends a minimum rate of 3 oz/acre for true armyworm control using Mustang Max
*Designates a restricted-use pesticide. Use is restricted to certified applicators only.
Be sure to read the label and follow all label directions, precautions, and restrictions.

Insecticides Labeled for Use on True Armyworm in Wheat.

Comment: Treat when an average of 4 or more half-grown or larger worms per square foot are present during late spring and before more than 2% to 3% of seed heads are cut from stems. Scout at dusk, dawn, or at night for best results.Small larvae feed on foliage at night and remain in plant debris near ground surface during day.

TRUE ARMYWORM - Mythimna unipuncta formerly Pseudaletia unipuncta
(Haworth)- Wheat 2014

Comments: Occasional severe pest of wheat and grass pastures. Treatment is justified when an average of 4 or more half-grown or larger worms per square foot are present during late spring and before more than 2% to 3% of heads are cut from stems. Scout at dusk, dawn, or at night as small larvae feed on foliage at night and remain in plant debris near ground during day. Optimal control from Success and Tracer insecticides is best achieved when they are applied at peak egg hatch or when larvae are small.

Common Name Trade Name Rate of Formulated Material/Acre Placement/Comments REI Hours Preharvest Intervals Days

*Designates a restricted-use pesticide. Use is restricted to certified applicators only.
Read the label to determine appropriated insecticide rates. Be sure to follow all label directions, precautions, and restrictions.

Insecticides Labeled for Use on True Armyworm in field corn.

Comment: Treat when an average of 4 or more half-grown or larger worms per square foot are present during late spring and before more than 2% to 3% of seed heads are cut from stems. Scout at dusk, dawn, or at night for best results.Small larvae feed on foliage at night and remain in plant debris near ground surface during day.

TRUE ARMYWORM - Mythimna unipuncta formerly Pseudaletia unipuncta (Haworth)
Field Corn 2014
Comments: Treat seedling corn when 25% or more of plants are being damaged. Control is justified after pollen shed if leaves above ear zone are being consumed by larvae. Optimal control by Tracer is best achieved when the insecticide is applied at peak egg hatch or when larvae are small.
Common Name Trade Name Rate of Formulated Material/Acre REI Hours Pre-harvest Intervals Days
cyfluthrin *Baythroid XL 1.8 to 2.4 fl oz 12 30 (grain)
3 (grazing or forage)
methomyl *Lannate SP 1/4 to 1/2 lb 48 7 (grain)
10 (grazing or feeding)
zeta-cypermethrin *Mustang Max 1.76 to 4.0 fl oz 12 14 (grain, forage, hay)
chlorpyrifos *Nufos 4E 1 pt 24 28 (grain or straw)
14 (forage or hay)
microencapsulated methyl parathion *Penncap-M 2 to 3 pt 48 15 (harvest or graze)
carbaryl Sevin 80S 1 1/4 to 1 7/8 lb 12 21 (grain or straw)
7 (hay or forage)
spinosad Tracer naturalyte 1.5 to 3.0 fl oz 4 21 (grain or straw)
14 (forage or hay)
chlorpyrifos + bifenthrin *Stallion 9.25 to 11.75 fl oz 24 14 (grazing) 28 (straw)
cyfluthrin *Tombstone Helios 1.8 to 2.4 fl oz 12 30 (grain)
7 (grazing)
lambda-cyhalothrin *Warrior II with Zeon 1.28 to 1.92 fl oz 24 30 (grain or straw)
7 (hay or forage)

*Designates a restricted-use pesticide. Use is restricted to certified applicators only.
Read the label to determine appropriated insecticide rates. Be sure to follow all label directions, precautions, and restrictions.

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