Armyworms leveled one Valley farmer’s 10-acre famr in two days. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Pests ravaging Valley farms identified as armyworms

The Ministry of Agriculture positively ID’d the insects on Thursday

The Ministry of Agriculture has positively ID’d the insects that have been eating acres of crops on Valley farms as armyworms.

Phil Croteau and Graeme Fowler from the Ministry of Agriculture visited Valley farms on Thursday to investigate the bug infestation and provide information to farmers.

“These things are ravaging fields,” said Heather Shobe, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) agriculture support worker.

Shobe said while her and the ministry reps were out on farms, they did a quick count on a 17 acre parcel and counted 155 armyworms on a 12 inch square, which would mean 114 million insects on the whole field.

“What’s happening here is major…it’s really important that this gets looked at and addressed,” she said.

Shobe said there is no provincial disaster assistance for crop loss but crop insurance is available for producers for compensation for crop losses/damage, but not retroactively, and no Alberni producers are currently subscribed.

“There are a number of farmers here who are going to be losing tens of thousands of dollars worth of forage in the region. It’s a severe financial loss,” she said.

Phil Croteau, agrologist with the Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry is advising farmers whose crops are close to maturity to harvest as quickly as possible or let livestock onto them for forage.

The pests have also been identified in the Comox Valley and Ucluelet.

The Alberni Valley Farmers’ Institute directors will be meeting to look at bulk purchase of biological controls as well as options for fundraising for those affected financially.

The ACRD will be compiling a list and map of affected farms.

Inquiries can be made to the Ministry of Agriculture, Agri-Service Line at 1-888-221-7141 or email to agriservicebc@gov.bc.ca.