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Fall Armyworm Outbreak in Alabama Pastures

Article by Alabama Cooperative Extension System


AUBURN, Ala. – Damaging populations of fall armyworms have been found in 8 Alabama counties. While that is far fewer counties than last summer, it is important to check valuable forage grasses. Armyworm caterpillars are detrimental to cattlemen and forage producers. The damage can seem to appear overnight. Dr. Kathy Flanders, an Alabama Extension Entomologist, said that the fall armyworm caterpillar eats the most within its last feeding stage.

“Fall armyworm caterpillars consume around 80 percent of the total amount of food eaten during the last few days of the last feeding stage,” said Flanders. “They then burrow into the ground, and transform into a moth and the life cycle starts all over again.”

It takes about 30 days for a female fall armyworm to develop from an egg to the point where she is ready to lay an egg of her own. This is why early on it appears that the reports of damage come in batches about a month apart. The moths lay eggs almost every day, and all sizes of fall armyworm caterpillars can be found in any given field.

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Featured Image: Dr. Kathy Flanders

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Identifying Fall Armyworms

Not sure if you've got armyworms in your pastures? Learn how to spot these fast-acting forage pests. 
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