Iowans Facing Lots of Fall Armyworm in 2021

Image: USDA

A tropical insect, fall armyworm can be found in abundance in Iowa this year.  Although they can't overwinter here, the adults are strong enough to fly this far, and a number of generations can develop before the Iowa cold weather begins.  An especially warm spring in their home regions, especially Texas is blamed for an explosion in fall armyworm populations, forcing the adults to spread farther than in a typical year.

Image: USDA

Fall armyworm larvae love to feed on grasses like corn or the rye grasses in your lawn.  Freshly laid sod seems to attract them like a magnet. They may also be found feeding on a variety of crops including soybeans, alfalfa, barley, and oats.  It's also rather common to find them munching on garden vegetables.  They tend to be "hungry, hungry caterpillars."

While homeowners may be able to wait out an infestation, for many farmers the only practical solution may be pesticide application to save endangered crops.

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