I purchase my yearly grass hay in advance from a grower in the Sacramento Valley.   As they harvest the hay, they send my rations every few months.  It works out perfectly…


Except this time, the Army Worms ate all of their hay crop in two days.


I had never even heard of Army Worms.  Have you?

How could something we’ve  never even heard of, totally wipe out an entire crop of hay.

In Two Days!!

I know I had purchased 360 bales alone – and I’m small potatoes compared to large buyers – so you can imagine how many bales they sell per year…

These little devils ate it all in TWO DAYS!

THE ARMY WORM.  Looks harmless, eh?  Wrong.

THE ARMY WORM. Looks harmless, eh? Wrong.


This week I received a very distressed email from my grower’s wife.  I felt horribly for her…  I could not imagine having a bug eat my entire year’s salary in one sitting.  Yowsa.

Army worms attacked our field.. devastated it…. we had a specialist looked at it on last Tuesday..  had a tiny sign.. he said they have come and gone..  walked out there last night, and our hay was wiped out.. I could hardly believe my eyes….   we had the timothy cut , but we stopped the orchard grass from being cut.. we are treating today the army worms and going to irrigate for a couple more weeks, see if we can get it to grow again… the timothy, there is so very little.. the army worms are still eating it on the ground….
 it was a beautiful Timothy crop….now, … hope to have enough for my own horses.. Orchard,— well it just depends…  maybe with this hot weather, it will take off again.. ……… we are throwing money at it, trying to fulfill our orders…  barney, last week,  was just asking me, if I was planning on advertising, to sell the rest of the hay. the crop looked fantastic.. we knew looking at the crop, there would be several hundred bales over what I had pre sold….  but again, that was 5 days ago.. now, it is destroyed……….. always worried about something like this happening….

you know.. I did not take any.. the best way to describe..  Friday night, grass was up to our knees, some places well  above our knees.. .. Beautiful crop.. The Orchard grass, was so thick you could not see any of the plant base.  You could not see any individual plants..   Just Thick solid grass….  After the worms ate for two nights….Sunday night,  the crop was only 6 inches high, with long naked grey empty stems coming out of the plant. You could see each individual plant, with visible dirt around the base of each grass  plants… Unbelievable..

You can see what they do to a hay field -

You can see what they do to a hay field –





Army worms are actually caterpillars of a moth.  They eat grasses and corn – grain crops.

But from the descriptions of devastated farmers, the caterpillars are more like locusts.

Here is a great news story that makes your skin crawl – really.

Watch this.  Blech.

Click image to watch this amazing newscast about an army worm invasion in NY

Click image to watch this amazing newscast about an army worm invasion in NY


Here is the Wikipedia description:

The Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is part of the order of Lepidoptera and is the caterpillar life stage of a moth. It is regarded as a pest and can wreak havoc with crops if left to multiply. Its name is derived from its feeding habits. They will eat everything in an area and once the food supply is exhausted the entire “army” will move to the next available food source.

The armyworm’s diet consists mainly of grasses and small grain crops. An infestation is hard to detect as the caterpillars migrate to new feeding areas in the cool of the night. When the caterpillars near maturity, they can lay waste to an entire crop in a few days.

In the United States, the western regions of New York State have been experiencing their own outbreak of armyworms around May 2012. While the infestation remains fairly localized, it has had a significant impact on local agriculture and farming.[6] Armyworms spread in great numbers to Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky and Montana in the fall of 2012.[7] Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg, announced Wednesday 03 Oct 2012 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated all seven counties in her 26th Congressional District as natural disaster areas due to the extensive damage caused earlier this year by army worms.

The district includes Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, Livingston, Monroe and Wyoming counties.

The early arrival of warm weather last spring was blamed for the appearance of an unusually high number of army worms. Ordinarily, they arrive later in the season, when more of their natural predators are present.

“Farms seeking assistance will now be eligible for emergency loans to help them recover and keep their businesses viable,” Hochul said. For information, farmers should contact their local Farm Services Agency office or Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Recently, it has been reported that 10% of China’s corn crop is suffering from Army worm infestation.




I found this simple link here.  It has information and this easy graphic How-To.

Control Armyworms in Grass

  1. 1

    Look for early signs of armyworm damage. Because they feed at night, you may not see the caterpillars right away. The earlier you treat the problem, the easier it is to control and less damage a lawn will sustain.

    • An increase of the number of birds in your yard may be an indication of armyworms. Birds eat the caterpillars, but usually do not eat enough of them to keep the infestation under control.
    • Brown spots on your lawn are often the first sign that you have an armyworm problem.
  2. 2

    Mow the grass short and then water it well to move the caterpillars out of the thatch.

  3. 3

    Spray the grass heavily with a liquid insecticide following manufacturer directions. Granular insecticides are generally less effective against armyworms than the liquid ones.

  4. 4

    Leave the sprayed lawn alone for at least 3 days without mowing or watering to give the insecticide time to work.

Control Armyworms in the Field

  1. 1

    Monitor your fields in spring for signs of armyworm damage. Look for holes in the leaves or pieces missing off of leaf edges where the armyworms have eaten them.

  2. 2

    Look under the plants for armyworms or signs of their frass, or droppings. You may also find larvae under plant debris lying in the field. If you are growing barley or wheat, you may find worms inside of the heads.

  3. 3

    Mow the field if armyworms have infested your hay fields. As the hay dries, the armyworms loose interest in it as a food source and move on.

  4. 4

    Apply insecticides to the field using ground or aerial equipment The following insecticides are proven effective on controlling armyworms:

    • Asana XL should be used only on corn crops and should not be applied within 21 days of harvest.
    • Permethrin is also only for use on corn and should not be used within 30 days of harvest.
    • Carbaryl (Sevin) may be applied either to corn or wheat. Do not use more than 2 applications and do not it apply within 21 days of harvest.
    • Ethyl is useful for corn, sorghum and all small grains but can only be applied with an aerial application. Do not apply ethyl within 12 days of harvesting corn or sorghum, and within 15 days of harvesting small grains. After you apply the ethyl, post notice that the field is being treated and stay out of it for 3 days.
    • Lorsban can be applied to corn and sorghum. Do not allow livestock to graze in a field for at least 15 days after you apply lorsban. Do not feed meat or dairy grains treated with Lorsban until at least 35 days have passed.
    • Lannate or Malathion can be used on all crops. Do not spray these insecticides within 7 days of harvest and stay out of the field for 2 days after treatment.
    • Methyl is used for aerial application on corn and small grains only. Do not apply it within 12 days of a corn harvest, or 15 days of a small grain harvest. Post notice in the fields and stay out of them for 2 days.
    • Warrior can be used in corn, sorghum or wheat fields. Do not apply it within 20 days of corn harvest or 30 days of sorghum or wheat harvest.



I found this article from the University of Florida.  Click here to read entire article.

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Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this portal benefits the Bucket Fund!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

2 comments have been posted...

  1. Nancy Reeves

    Army worms went thru our fields in 2012 (WNY)- we lost 65% of our hay. Spent all winter searching for hay and had to pay incredible prices!! Thank God we survived that and this years fields came back just fine! We were all afraid that the worms would come back but they didnt or at least not in the amount that would destroy the fields again!! Scary stuff!

  2. Deb

    They destroyed the hay crop in Central New York two springs ago (2012). Since the growers out there use proprionic acid to dry their hay crop, their sprayers were not available to spray pesticides. It was brutal. I am not sure how far it spread – but it was due to the abnormally warm winter that failed to kill them off.

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