Army cutworm emerges in western Kansas

An extension entomologist says army cutworm has been prevalent in some western Kansas wheat and triticale fields.

Anthony Zukoff with Kansas State University says, “We had a very large flight of the moths coming into Kansas last fall, and so a lot of eggs were laid and this spring we’re seeing increased activity, a caterpillar feeding, in wheat and triticale and a little bit of activity in alfalfa.”

He tells Brownfield the pest can cause some crop damage. “They’re consuming leaf tissue, so the young wheat stands, if there’s enough caterpillars they could wipe out entire plants pretty quickly.”

Zukoff says army cutworm doesn’t typically migrate too far east. “As you go east, moist soils are full of pathogens and viruses and fungal pathogens that kill the caterpillars more readily than the dry soils of the west. But it does make it all the way to eastern Kansas, Nebraska, into Missouri, even western Iowa.”

He says farmers can control the pest by spraying for the young caterpillars.

AUDIO: Anthony Zukoff – Kansas State University Extension Entomologist

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