Environmental conditions have a significant effect on bertha armyworm populations, especially on the overwintering pupae. It is regarded as a pest and can damage and destroy a wide variety of crops, which causes large economic damage. The larva has a dark head capsule usually marked with a pale, but distinct, inverted “Y.” Along each side of its body is a longitudinal, black stripe, and along the middle of its back is a wider, yellowish-gray stripe with four black dots on each segment. Larvae remain in the soil during the day and come out at night to climb up on plants to feed on leaves. Figure 8.
Use economic threshold levels to determine if spraying is warranted. If weather is cool and wet during egg laying and food is abundant, outbreaks are common.
With thanks to John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, for manuscript review. High egg survival of fall armyworms is favored by above-average rains in August and September. long when full grown. Damage consists of foliage consumption.
Use the average number of larvae at the sites surveyed within each field to determine if the economic threshold has been exceeded. 1985. The best timing for insecticide applications is in the evenings or on cloudy days when armyworms or army cutworms are feeding actively.
Some remain green, but many become brown or velvety black. Figure 6. Larvae Even if the pods are only stripped of their outer green layer and not eaten entirely, crop losses may still occur because of premature shattering. (W. Cranshaw, Colorado State University).
High rainfall in July can reduce moth populations by drowning or covering them with mud. This practice helps preserve natural enemies by eliminating unnecessary insecticide applications that will kill beneficial insects. Land Grant. Fall populations of larvae often blend together several generations and may appear to be continually occurring. As with armyworms, detecting and controlling army cutworms while they are small and before they cause significant crop losses is critical. What are mouthparts on insects like, and how can I see them? The egg mass is covered by a sticky substance produced by the female. AgriLife Extension's online Bookstore offers educational information and resources related to our many areas of expertise and programming; from agriculture, horticulture, and natural resources to nutrition, wellness for families and youth, and much more. High populations appear to march side by side to the new food. Larvae in the last two larval stages eat about 80 to 90% of the plant material consumed during the life of the larvae.
A nuclear polyhedrosis virus also attacks bertha armyworm. More information, contact
During harsh winters in snow-free fields, most bertha armyworm pupae die. Leaf feeding or head clipping is evident. An advantage of using pheromone lures is that they are species-specific.
Armyworms should be controlled when they occur in large numbers or plant damage is becoming excessive. (J. Berger). Bertha armyworms survive the winter as pupae in the ground at depths of 5 to 16 cm. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Blacklight traps or pheromone traps are used to monitor for armyworm moths during the summer. As the substance dries, it forms an adhesive that glues the foliage leaves together to protect and hide the eggs from potential predators. After a brief feeding period in the spring, moths fly to the Rocky Mountains in Montana or other mountainous areas in July and August. A dry fall, especially during September, reduces overwintering larval populations by delaying the hatch or increasing the mortality of eggs and newly hatched larvae through desiccation. Indications of armyworm feeding include leaf defoliation, worm frass (droppings) around the base of plants and severed leaf material that has fallen to the ground (Figure 4). Bertha armyworm (Mamestra configurata) is one of the most significant insect pests of canola in Canada. Look under your plants for armyworms and/or signs of their frass (droppings). The risk assessment provides an early warning signal for producers and agronomists to scout fields for larvae and determine if economic thresholds are surpassed. The hind wings are light gray-brown, with a whitish fringe. Feeding and movement occur at night or on cloudy days. Fall armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda) are brown with yellow stripes, beet armyworms (Spodoptera exigua) are green with light stripes. Eggs are pearly green in color when newly laid and darken to a brown color in about 12 hours.
Armyworms attack many different kinds of plants. The damage caused by Army Worms is most obvious by the speed at which damage occurs, as the caterpillars form very large numbers and behave like a colony to eat away at the green leaf of lawns. Use risk assessment maps as a regional early warning sign to scout fields for larvae.
Thus, armyworms can be found on nearly any plant as they migrate in search of edible foliage. Moths lay eggs at night in folded leaves or under leaf sheaths of small grain plants and other grasses. Awns of wheat head chewed off by armyworm larva. If all food is consumed, larvae often move in hordes or “armies,” eating and destroying vegetation as they move.
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