Fall Armyworm

John Van Duyn, North Carolina State University, Entomology Extension Specialist

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Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) does not overwinter in North Carolina. Moths migrate into the state each year and low caterpillar numbers can often be found by late May in the northern Coastal Plain. Only late planted corn, after early to mid May, may become seriously infested. Thus, the major tactic for preventing loss to this insect is to avoid both late planting and very late maturing hybrids (e.g. 126 RDM). The recent trend to plant tropical corn in mid-season for silage invites serious infestation by fall armyworm (and other late season caterpillar pests).

If severe infestation occurs (50%+ of plants with caterpillars) grain yields may be reduced by the leaf feeding; 100% infestation will result in about 18% grain yield reduction in a 140 bu/A corn crop. If caterpillars are present as tasseling begins, caterpillars move from the whorls and eat into the side or tip of the ear. Several caterpillars may infest ears. This insect may seriously affect popcorn, white corn, and seed corn if the crop matures late.

Control of larger size fall armyworms with insecticides is very difficult. All late planted corn may be scouted on a weekly interval for small fall armyworms until plants are near the tassel stage (see section on scouting). Small caterpillars are more easily controlled and it is important to treat an economic infestation before it spreads and becomes entrenched in the whorl.

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This page (http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/plymouth/pubs/ent/crarmyworm.html) was created by John W. Van Duyn Ph D. Extension Entomologist and Wayne Modlin

Date Created 1/30/01. Last revised on 1/30/04.

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

Caution: The information and recommendations in these Notes were developed for North Carolina conditions and may not apply elsewhere.