This article was written by Dr. Tom Royer, Extension Entomologist
Lanie Hale, from Wheeler Brothers sent a picture of “window paned” wheat from a field that he had scouted. He counted 3 fall armyworms per row foot from his visual count (which is treatment threshold) but when he looked closely at his photo on his computer, he saw 15 worms in an area the size of his hand (they were very tiny, and probably newly hatched). It is easy to miss some of these little worms in the field because they hide in residue and are very tiny.
Look very closely for “window paned” leaves and count all sizes of larvae. Examine plants along the field margin as well as in the interior, because they sometimes move in from road ditches and weedy areas. The suggested treatment threshold is 2-3 larvae per linear foot of row in wheat with active feeding. Numerous insecticides are registered for control, but they are much more susceptible when caterpillars are small. We won’t get relief from fall armyworms until we get a killing frost, so keep vigilant!
Consult the newly updated OSU Fact Sheets CR-7194 Management of Insect and Mite Pests of Small Grains for control suggestions.