Workshop explores pest management techniques

Published 3:25 pm Friday, May 31, 2013

Regional Extension Agent Josh Elmore demonstrates how to use a sweep net to catch forage pest insects.

Regional Extension Agent Josh Elmore demonstrates how to use a sweep net to catch forage pest insects.

Regional Extension Agent Josh Elmore talked to a group Friday about forage insect pests in Chilton County and techniques farmers and residents can use to manage pests and prevent future infestation.

In a “Forage Focus” workshop sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Elmore covered methods of scouting and controlling several of the area’s major pests, which include fire ants, armyworms and bermudagrass stem maggots.

“The one pest that we all have to deal with not only in our forages and hay fields but around our house is fire ants,” Elmore said. “We’re used to living with them, but there are some options we’ve got available to us. We’ve got some really good options for treating fire ants now.”

Elmore said fire ant baits such as Extinguish Plus Fire Ant Bait and Amdro Fire Ant Bait are broadcast treatments that can help control colonies before mounds appear above the ground. The baits are designed to spread across areas infested with fire ants.

“A mature mound will have about 1.2 million ants,” Elmore said. “By putting this bait out correctly, we kill the queen and use other colonies to team up against it. If you don’t kill the queen, you end up chasing that mound.”

Residual insecticides—granular or liquid concentrate insecticides—such as Hi-Yield Bug Blaster II Turf, Termite and Ornamental Insect Control can also be spread or sprayed over an area to combat infestation.

Elmore said each treatment varies in cost per acre and could be as low as $10 per acre.

Fall armyworms damage crops by chewing on plant tissue and mostly feed on plants in the grass family.

“Armyworms will come in and defoliate your hay crop,” Elmore said. “The biggest thing is to scout them.”

Elmore showed workshop attendees a sweep net, a tool used to find armyworms and other insects while they are still small.

The Chilton County Extension Office in Clanton has sweep nets farmers and residents may borrow and return, free of charge.

A video on how to properly use a sweep net can be found at http://youtube/71wdf8P33bQ.

Elmore said he will lead a fire ant treatment demonstration for children at the Chilton County YMCA on June 18 from 12–2 p.m.

“In spring and summer for our pastures and forage producers, we fight insects in cattle production and hay production,” Elmore said. “This is the time to be proactive.”

For more information about managing forage insect pests, visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s website at