True armyworms are active in area wheat fields and other grass crops. This is a different species of armyworm than the fall armyworm that caused so much damage late last summer.
True Armyworm larvae are 1½ inches long and green to brown. They have an orange strip with a white border running along the length of the body. The eyes have a honeycomb or net-like pattern of lines. There is a dark band at the top of each proleg (small, fleshy leg on the abdomen). There is no white inverted “Y” running between the eyes as is characteristic of the fall armyworm.
The larvae of the true armyworm (Pseudaletia unipuncta (Haworth)) can damage wheat and forage grasses in the spring. Outbreaks are favored by cool, damp weather from late March through June. Armyworm larvae do not develop well once daytime highs average more than 88°F. The heat causes their numbers to decrease dramatically.
Infestations often begin in areas where the small grains are the tallest and thickest or near the edge of fields. During the day, armyworms hide at the bases of the plants; they move up the plants to feed late in the afternoon, at night, and during cloudy weather. They can cause extensive damage below the crop canopy before they are detected. Early armyworm detection is important because small larvae are easier to control. Signs of damage include leaf feeding and beard and head clipping. It is important to protect the flag leaf and grain head from armyworm damage. Control measures are suggested when four to five larvae per square foot are found in combination with evidence of extensive feeding on lower leave
You can tell if you have fire ants if you see a mound of fluffy worked soil, especially after a few days of heavy rain. Turf grass mounds can reach 18 inches in height; however, most will only be a few inches tall due to disturbance.
Fire ants are very small, about 1/8” to ¼” long. They do have a variation in size, which is a distinguishing characteristic of imported fire ants. If you happen to get stung, it feels like getting burned. A day or so later, a white fluid filled pustule or blister at the red sting site will appear.
Step One: Bait Products
Fire ant baits consist of pesticides on processed corn grits coated with soybean oil. Worker ants take the bait back to the colony, where it is shared with the queen, which then either dies or becomes infertile. Baits currently available include Amdro, Siege, Logic, Award, Ascend, or Raid Fire Ant Killer.
Step Two: Individual Mound Treatments
Chemical. With dust products, no water is needed, and they act fast. However, they leave a surface residue. Liquid drenches generally eliminate mounds within a few hours and leave little surface residue after application. Granular products are relatively fast acting and usually require putting granules on and around the mound and then sprinkling 1 to 2 gallons of water on without disturbing the mound. Closely follow directions on the label.
Organic. Pouring 2 to 3 gallons of very hot or boiling water on the mound will kill ants about 60% of the time. Otherwise, the ants will probably just move to another location. Very hot or boiling water will kill the grass or surrounding vegetation that it is poured upon.
Lonnie Jenschke is an Erath County extension agent.