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Extension Notes: Watch for fall armyworms

By: Rebecca Konopka
Carter County Extension Agent

A truly historic outbreak of fall armyworms took place in 2021. According to collaborators at Auburn University, it was the worst year for this pest since the late 1970s. While entomologists don’t expect another outbreak this year, it is good to keep your eyes peeled for signs of the fall armyworm.

Fall armyworms typically cause issues in corn and alfalfa, so be on the lookout for damage to these plants. They feed on grasses, so lawn browning is another common sign. Fall armyworms are a migratory species that arrive in Kentucky in June, so be on the lookout for them.

The caterpillar stage is considered the damaging stage of development for this pest. If you find a caterpillar and suspect it may be a fall armyworm, look for a yellow “Y” on the head and four dots in a square on the rear to be certain.

You have several ways to manage fall armyworms. Pyrethroids are an effective type of pesticide against foliage-feeding pests. Some examples of these pesticides include Bifenthrin (Talstar), Lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar), Permethrin (Astro) and Cyfluthrin (Tempo).

It is best to use the spray formulation and make sure you don’t mow or irrigate the sprayed area for 24 hours.

Non-pyrethroid products can also be effective against turf caterpillars. These are low hazards to humans and the environment. Some common examples of these are Acelepryn, Provaunt and Conserve SC.

For more information on managing insect pests and correct pesticide use, contact the Carter County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.  Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Upcoming Events

  • The Grayson Farmer’s Market will open on July 2nd at 9:00 AM.  The market is located in the shed behind the Extension Office.   The Olive Hill Farmer’s Market will open on July 9th at 8:00 AM.   The Olive Hill market is located in the Save-a-Lot parking lot.  
  • The Little Sandy Beekeeper’s Association will meet on Tuesday, July 5th at 6:00 PM at the Carter County Extension Office.   Christin Herbst, Farm Service Agency County Executive Director, will be speaking about FSA programs available to beekeepers.  


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