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The adult Armyworm is a light brownish gray moth or "miller" (Figure 1) with a conspicuous white spot about the size of a pinhead on each front wing. When expanded, the wings are about 1inch apart.




 
 

Armyworm larvae are pale green in the early growth stage and dark green in later stages. Full grown larvae are smooth, striped and almost hairless. They grow to a length of 1 to 2 inches. A series of longitudinal stripes on the body are arranged as follows.

1)
A thin, white, broken line down the middle of the black.
2)
A wide, dark, mottled stripe halfway down the side.
3)
A pale orange stripe with white border.
4)
A brownish mottled stripe.
5)
Slightly above the legs, there is another pale orange stripe with white borders.


 

Life Cycle of the Armyworm

Most infestations begin in early June and July. The Moths will lay eggs at night underneath leaves and foliage where they can take cover. They prefer to lay their eggs in shaded, moist areas.

Armyworm eggs are small and white and resemble miniature pearls. The eggs will hatch into larvae in about 10 days.

The Larvae will then feed for about 4 weeks keeping close to the same area until out of food or fully grown. When feeding is complete, larvae move under litter and soil clods, or burrow 2 to 3 inches into the soil, where they make small cells and pupate. About two weeks later, moths emerge from pupal cases, mate, and lay eggs for the next generation. This region usually only sees one generation of Armyworms.


Damage From the Armyworm

The Armyworm is primarily a pest of grasses. Feeding and movement occur at night or on cloudy days. During the daytime, Armyworms hide under vegetation, loose soil or in soil cracks. Caterpillars consume more and more vegetation as they grow. Since they feed at night and hide during the daytime, Armyworms often cause considerable damage before being discovered.



Controlling the Armyworm

It is extremely important to detect and control Armyworms while they are small and before extensive damage is done. Controlling nearly mature larva that have completed their feeding is a waste of time and money.
If the Armyworm is more than 1 inch long, then the damage has already been done and a treatment would not be warranted at this point.





 

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