Small creatures, big problem.
Small creatures, big problem.

Army worm returns

CLARENCE Valley farmers are under siege from an enemy attacking in greater numbers than ever before: the voracious army worm.

One rural supplier said the grubs, which normally appear a few days after floodwaters subside, can’t explain why the numbers of the pest have exploded.

“At one place I’ve been to, they’ve even eaten one of those coir door mats,” said Steve Leeson, head economist at AgriServices, Grafton.

Mr Leeson said this year a second species of army worm has appeared with a longer life cycle.

“The usual army grub around here has a 28-day cycle,” he said.

“This summer we have seen another variety with a 40-day cycle.”

Mr Leeson said the common army worm feeds at night and is dormant during they day.

“The other type of grub is grey/green and feeds all day.”

Farmers and gardeners will be disappointed to learn there is likely to be another cycle of the army worms.

Mr Leeson said the most affected areas have been low-lying regions, particularly around Lawrence.

“There’s one section of cane that’s been skeletised by army grubs,” he said.

Mr Leeson said applications of insecticides containing the active ingredient chloropyrifos could help control outbreaks.

He said claims that applications of lime could control the bug were “old wives tales.”

“I’ve seen plenty of heavily-limed paddocks eaten out by army worms.”

Mr Leeson said farmers should check their soil for signs of the worms as well as pests like scarab beetles, slugs and snails.

“Farmers planting winter feed should look for signs of scarab beetle larvae,” he said.

“When the seed germinates, they will nip it off below the growing point, killing it.”

Mr Leeson said farmers could lightly cultivate affected areas to control pest numbers.



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