Southern Armyworms, Spodoptera eridania, has made its first appearance of 2012 in Wakulla County on April 19. A home gardener brought in the samples seen in the photograph above.
While most were still in the larva stage, the gardener had experience substantial damage to his tomato and potato plants. It is suspected the eggs overwintered in nearby Polkweed, a favored host plant for these pests.
Southern armyworm is best controlled with foliar insecticides when larvae are small. Insecticides vary considerably in their toxicity to larvae, making it difficult to control with botanical insecticides.
This gardener, who follows organic protocols, will be treating with Diatamacious Earth (DE) and Dipel.
For more information refer to the “Southern Armyworm” at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in263 or contact your local Extension Office.