East Texas ag producers dealing with armyworm invasion - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas ag producers dealing with armyworm invasion

A Nacogdoches County hay field (Source: KTRE Staff) A Nacogdoches County hay field (Source: KTRE Staff)
The larval stage of the armyworm (Source: KTRE Staff) The larval stage of the armyworm (Source: KTRE Staff)
Armyworm eggs (Source: KTRE Staff) Armyworm eggs (Source: KTRE Staff)
The armyworm's moth stage (Source: KTRE Staff) The armyworm's moth stage (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -

Rain is back in the forecast. East Texas agriculturists aren’t complaining, but the moisture is creating an unseasonable return for armyworms. The invasion is a nuisance for hay producers.

“We done spent a bunch of money on army worms this year,” said hay producer Freddy Rudisill

Rudisill is in a battle with armyworms, an insect whose larval form can wipe out a hay field in a matter of days.

“If you don't fight 'em you'll have ground that is just bare because they will eat everything off of it,” Rudisill said. “Armyworms will put you out of business."

Armyworms usually show up in the fall, but this year the invasion is widespread.

“The upper parts of East Texas, all the way down to the coast,” said Ricky Thompson, the Agrilife extension agent for Nacogdoches County.

Thompson said unseasonable summer rains, and cooler temperatures led to the moth's early arrival.

“The moth comes out earlier in the spring, and they'll start laying these eggs,” Thompson said. She migrates to the south in order to lay these eggs and then we have to deal with them."

White egrets love eating armyworms, but the birds also spread the eggs and larvae to other pastures.

There is no prevention, but armyworms can be controlled.

“Most of these products are just contact killers,” Thompson said. “It actually have to get on the worm itself in order to kill him.”

Armyworms are a part of hay production Rudisill said. He'll stay in the fight in exchange for welcomed summer rains.

“We've had more rain this year than we have had in 10 or 11 years,” Rudisill said. “Our cows are just walking knee deep in grass because of the rain."

And the rancher won't let a worm get in the way of a productive hay season.

Armyworms can also invade home lawns. Property owners are encouraged to contact their Texas Agrilife office to find out the best way to take control the problem.

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