Army worms are marching in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, but not nearly to the extent as in Jefferson County.
Weve definitely been fortunate, relatively speaking, said Joseph R. Lawrence, field crops educator at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County.
In Lewis County, the worms were noticed June 6 in a cornfield along the Route 26 corridor between Lowville and Deer River, Mr. Lawrence said. While the majority of worms have been discovered on farms in that section of the county, they also have been found in the Croghan and Houseville areas in subsequent weeks, he said.
The critters have caused substantial damage to four or five hayfields, stripping the leafy portion of the hay and leaving the stems, in which there is very little nutritional value, Mr. Lawrence said.
But there are whole farms that have had that in Jefferson County and other areas, he said.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County also has received a number of calls from farmers, particularly in the Hammond and Gouverneur areas, reporting army worm infestations.
It caught people by surprise how rapidly they moved through, said Extension agent Brent A. Buchanan.
Paul R. Peterson, a regional field crops specialist at the Canton extension office, was touring St. Lawrence County fields Friday for evidence of the worms and was unavailable for comment.
Mr. Lawrence said he has been out testing many fields for their level of infestation, but only a modest number of farms had levels over the threshold in which pesticide treatment is recommended.
While some minor feeding in cornfields has been observed, the plants should be fine so long as the worms dont eat at the growing point, located on the stalk near the ground, he said.
Its definitely going to hurt yields on those corn fields, but it wont kill them, Mr. Lawrence said.
Extension officials are recommending that farmers with infestations of relatively young, still-hungry worms treat the borders of their adjacent fields with insecticide to create a barrier against them, he said.
Some other insects and fungi act as biological controls to army worms, so excessive spraying could inadvertently kill off good bugs, as well, Mr. Lawrence said.
Prior newspaper stories and other media attention have helped create awareness of the army worm problem among farmers, but they are encouraged to remain vigilant in looking for and reporting the presence of the worms, Mr. Lawrence said.
The pest spread to New York when adult-stage moths from further south migrated, then laid eggs, Mr. Lawrence said.
They were pretty much following the lake, he said, adding that some made it over to Lewis County, but not nearly as many.
The next generation of moths should appear in the north country by mid-July, Mr. Lawrence said.
However, a professor of entomology at Cornell University suggested that there should be few issues with second-generation army worms.
The same behavior which makes this insect a long-distance migrant, that is, the need to fly before settling down to lay eggs, is in force in all generations, wrote Elson J. Shields in an email to extension agents throughout the state.
The spring infestation was caused by storm patterns that concentrated millions of moths into a relatively small zone, but dilution of next-generation moths in the vast New York habitat should reduce any potential to a non-problem, Mr. Shields added.