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Pamela’s Column

Birds Flocking? You May Have Worms

By Pamela Redwine

Well, this is my second week to put together the “extension agriculture” news article and we still don’t have a name.  Although, we have had several good suggestions. So, we decided to go to the public and get you to help me decide on a name.  We will take your suggestions through Aug. 4.  You can email your suggestions to: or call the Extension office at 675-2730.  May the best name win!

Congratulations go out to the Yalobusha County Shooting Sports.  They have competed in two competitions recently and have done well in both.  The Shooting Sports program has grown this year and we want to say a special thanks to all of the volunteers, parents, youth and sponsors that helped out in any way to make it such a successful year.


Late summer and early fall are the peak season for fall armyworm invasions of well managed turf, especially bermudagrass lawns, athletic fields and golf courses that have been fertilized and watered but they have arrived early this year.

The moths migrate in large numbers and lay as many as a thousand eggs each. During these hot days of summer the eggs hatch in only a few days with the tiny caterpillars feeding almost continuously. When small they may go unnoticed while consuming only a small amount of leaf tissue daily, but nearing their last few days as larvae, they can literally devour an entire lawn almost overnight. Therefore, it is important that a careful scouting regime be established to detect their presence and control them while they are small.

At least once a week during the remaining growing season randomly check several locations in the lawn by brushing the grass back and forth with your hand, part the blades down to the soil line, and look for coiled light tan or green to nearly black caterpillars. If you care to pick one of them up and look at it straight on you may notice a small inverted “Y” marking on its forehead.

A tip that golf course superintendents use to alert them of their arrival is checking the flags on the greens each morning for small light brown egg masses that have been laid on them by the moths during the night. You might try placing a small flag or white flat stake in your lawn as well. Other indications of their presence is flocks of birds on your lawn or an abundance of paper wasps hovering close to the turf canopy as both feed on the caterpillars.

Control is not too difficult if the lawn is treated with an appropriate insecticide when the caterpillars are small. Liquid sprays or granules containing active ingredients of bifenthrin, carbaryl, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin or trichorfon are recommended. For more details refer to Extension publication 2331 Control of Insect Pests in and around the Home Lawn which can be obtained at your local extension office or downloaded from the extension web at

Early season blueberry varieties have just about been picked clean.  This is a good time to prune any shoots that are heading in the wrong direction. You can root the shoots now if you need more blueberry bushes. It is easier to propagate in winter or early spring, but it can work now. The difference is in keeping the planted shoots moist  but not wet. Current conditions mean applying water to replace a quarter inch a day.

Be sure to allow growing tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings to experience direct sunlight for at least part of the day. This will keep the plants short and allow them to adapt to the conditions they will face in the field.

Grandma used to whup her okra in July. The preferred instrument was a broom handle applied with vigor to the plant which was probably over her head. This is one of those old timers tales that actually has validity. Okra has strong apical dominance and will only branch sparingly while the  bud on top of the plant is in place. Removing the top of the plant will break that dominance and allow side branches to develop. The side branches will eventually produce okra blooms and pods at an easier to harvest level. Most folks now use pruning shears rather than a broom handle.

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