The Invasion of the Army Worms
Other than the huge number of grasshoppers we've had all summer and the ever-present pests like SVBs and stink bugs, it hasn't been a very bad pest year here. Things might be about to change.
For a couple of weeks now, we've had a small army (oops, no pun intended) of moths lurking around the porch lights at night. They more or less came out of nowhere. One day there were none, and then the next day there were dozens and dozens around each light. They aggravate me by flying into the laundry room any time someone opens the exterior door there to let the dogs go in/out (to/from) the dog yard. Then I have to chase them down and swat them, because there's nothing like having moths come flying into the kitchen while I'm canning. I wouldn't want to have a moth end up in a jar of food. And, all along, I've had that "uh oh" feeling because those moths looked vaguely familiar.
So, over the last 3 or 4 days while harvesting from both the front and back gardens, I've found various caterpillars---but particularly beet army worms, yellow-striped army worms and fall army worms. I do not yet see them in huge numbers, but usually once you start seeing them, you then increasingly see more, more and more. I find them on top of the mulch and I find them lying on the soil. (Are they suntanning? I haven't figured out why they are lying there, curled up, on top of the soil.) I find them on plants. I kill every single one that I find so that it cannot reproduce and give us even more of them. The only damage I have found so far that I believe they caused is holes in the leaves of southern peas.
Still, even though I have been watching carefully so I can catch a sudden explosion in their population and spray if needed, I am not yet seeing them at a level that would concern me, so I haven't even mentioned them to anyone except Tim and Chris.
Last night, on our local news channel, which is CBS-affiliate KXII that covers the Texoma region on both sides of the river, including Ardmore, OK, Sherman, Denison and Gainesville, TX, and a large area around those cities, they had a news story that included video of a real army of army worms munching their way across a family's yard. Yikes! It was horrifying. I've never seen them here in numbers that high, but what it reminded me of was the spring we had all the trouble with cutworms, climbing cutworms and true army worms. I think that was 2010.
So, this is just sort of a heads-up to let you know we are seeing them here in south-central OK and across the river in adjacent portions of TX. So far, the heavier infestations seem to be east of I-35, and I haven't talked to anyone here in our neighborhood who has seen any yet, although I surely have seen them in small numbers. The way army worms work is that they usually start in southern areas and move northward, so if you further north and haven't seen any yet, they might be coming your way.
If you've never experienced army worms before, the key point to understand is that the name "army" is a clue, as they usually show up in very large numbers and travel, like an army, across an area, devouring almost everything in their path. They can wipe out a lawn in just a day or two. Should you have them show up suddenly in numbers like that, you need to treat the area with a product labeled for army worm control ASAP because if you wait a day or two, your entire lawn, for example, may be eaten right down to the soil. On last night's news story, the reporter said that one farm supply store (and I think she said it was in southern OK, not in TX) sold out all of their current stock of products that kill army worms in one single day. So, wherever that store was, obviously their area is being hit hard right now.
Other than that spring of whenever (I think it was 2010 which was a good garden year overall once the cutworms and army worms were under control), I only remember one other year when we have had army worms in significant numbers and I think that either was 2000 or 2001.
Any of you seeing these little beasts yet?