(Photo by Ralph Booker, Extension Educator, Marshall County)
(Click on the smaller image to view a larger image.)
Many reports are coming in of brownish-gray to buff colored moths congregating near homes and landscapes in the evening hours. These have been identified as the adult stage of the armyworm caterpillar (Noctuidae: Pseudaletia unipuncta). During the early spring, caterpillars measuring 1.5 inches in length and having longitudinal white stripes on the sides and back, were commonly reported in agronomic and turfgrass areas where they were found feeding on many different plants. Some damage to crops and other plants was reported, however, most damage is done by the first generation of the year. Later in the spring and summer, damage tapers off considerably as do the numbers of armyworms. Possibly, the unusual weather conditions we experienced early this year in some way allowed the armyworms to increase to higher than normal populations. The result -- lots of the moths flying around lights and residences right now.
Homeowners should know that, although these moths are a nuisance and sometimes find their way into homes, they will not harm people, houses, or yards.
(You may also wish to view the What's Hot page on Armyworm with more info on the armyworm larvae and damaged caused.)
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Last updated: 24 May 2001/tlm.
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University.