ELENA RARDON PHOTO If you spot caterpillars in webbing, they might be fall webworms, rather than armyworms.

Second wave of armyworms arrive in Alberni Valley

Farmers around Port Alberni cautioned to watch for moths

A second wave of armyworms has hit the Alberni Valley, as new damage has been reported by Valley farmers.

A 14-acre field in the Beaufort area was decimated by a severe infestation of the armyworms at the end of August, and smaller caterpillars have now been spotted in another Alberni Valley field, according to the ACRD. What’s on your Fork? Facebook page.

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ACRD agricultural support worker Heather Shobe said this is the second generation of armyworms in the Valley, after the first generation of moths laid their eggs and hatched into caterpillars.

“The damage is different,” she said. “But they are back now, eating what is left.”

Shobe added that armyworms have been spotted all over the island, as well as on the mainland, causing damage to corn crops there. “It’s not just a small island community problem,” she emphasized.

Ministry entomologist Tracy Hueppelsheuser released a report recommending that farmers scout for armyworm larvae in the lush regrowth of grass fields. Check in areas near or adjacent to earlier armyworm-damaged fields, as moths will be looking for growing grass to lay new eggs. This report can be found on the ACRD website.

The ACRD has finished pheromone trapping for the fall, but will be setting up trapping for the spring so they will be able to gain control over the first generation of armyworms before they strike.

Shobe warned that if you spot caterpillars in webbing around this time of year, you may be seeing a fall webworm, rather than an armyworm.

“They’re not really a destructive caterpillar,” she said. “Tent caterpillars are more cyclical and can do extensive damage, but we’re not having an issue with those.”

The ACRD had a display at the Fall Fair last weekend, showing the public what armyworm looks like, as well as an example of a pheromone trap.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com