The seemingly inconspicuous armyworm moth isn’t what it seems. The tiny insect is just the beginning of a hay farmer’s nightmare.
“Lays it’s eggs in the fertile hay meadows and stuff, so that the offspring has plenty of nutrition to grow and they’re very destructive,” said Malcolm Williams, owner of Superior Hay & Feed.
And on the heels of a very soggy start to summer, croppers have reason to be concerned.
“It’s kind of like a perfect storm, the weather and everything has to be right for them to hatch, but when they do, there are a tremendous amount of eggs being laid that will hatch,” said Williams.
Pair the armyworms with the hay-hungry grasshoppers and growers could be in trouble. We took a quick walk through the fields at Superior Hay & Feed and saw dozens of grasshoppers and handfuls of armyworm moths.
Agrilife says spotting the troublesome caterpillars is pretty simple.
“Get on your ATV and as you’re riding across your pastures and your hay meadows, stick your boot out a little bit to the side, being careful, and look for the small caterpillars to collect on your rubber boot,” said Cary Sims, Angelina County Extension Agent.
You will be most likely to spot them during the coolest part of the day.
“As quick as you find them, you go to spraying them, because it don’t take but a few days for them to just ruin a hay meadow,” said Doyle Oliver, a landowner.
So farmers must be diligent to protect their harvest.