Armyworms have made their way onto Vancouver Island.

Rare armyworm making its way onto Island farms

A destructive insect rarely – if ever – seen on Vancouver Island and in the Comox Valley is raising concerns for farmers, particularly those whose crops include hay and corn.

Neil Turner, who along with Arzeena Hamir, own Amara Farm, an organically-run farm selling garlic and winter vegetables, said the infestation of armyworms is “very freaky.”

Turner’s neighbouring farm has been infested with armyworms, and said while farmers shouldn’t panic, there is cause for concern.

“When you walk across the hay field, you can hear a ‘pop, pop’ sound with every step.”

Armyworms, common to Manitoba but very rare in B.C., have not yet caused a lot of damage to crops in the Valley, explained Turner, but have made their way into the Port Alberni area, with several farmers reporting destruction of hay fields.

“The province usually doesn’t have this outbreak; they might pop up once every 20 years or so.”

According to Manitoba Agriculture, armyworms feed on oats, wheat, fall rye, barley, forage grasses and field and sweet corn. Adults are moths that do not overwinter in the province, but move in from the south, and in some years can get to levels that can cause economic damage to crops.

Turner noted he is unsure how the insects have made their way into the province, but theorized it could be attributed to climate change or transportation of hay from outside of B.C. He said the source is hard to pinpoint, but there are a variety of possibilities.

“There’s a lot of uncertainly … there’s no mention of quarantine but is it something that we can start controlling now? Spray only works on the larvae when it’s feeding so it has to be a timely application.”

Hamir added it is now a bit late for pesticide application, which would raise concerns for her as an organic farmer.

“If non-organic spray is used, it could blow over but we’re lucky because we have strong buffers of forest on three sides, but there would be some concerns with aerial spray.”

She said while there currently isn’t a protocol in place, the province is working on coming up with some strategies for farmers.

In the meantime, Hamir encourages farmers to check their crops for armyworms, and to contact provincial entomologist Susanna Acheampong at 250-861-7681 for proper identification and confirmation.

For a short video of the armyworm, visit comoxvalleyrecord.com

Just Posted

Courtenay family advocating for drug decriminalization following death of son

Jennifer Hedican knew her son Ryan wanted help. It was the weekend,… Continue reading

Comox Valley struggling to reach affordable housing targets

A recent presentation highlighted that the Comox Valley Regional District is lagging… Continue reading

Warm clothes await those in need thanks to local drive

With a large selection of coats, clothes, winter jackets and blankets, more… Continue reading

Missing Courtenay teen found safe

The Comox Valley teen who was last seen Nov. 16 has now… Continue reading

Huband Park Elementary receives $10,000 grant to expand salad bar lunch program

A $10,000 grant will allow a Comox Valley elementary school to expand… Continue reading

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

BC Transit buses to get safety door for drivers

These new full-length doors will be tested in Victoria, Kelowna and Abbotsford

‘Fresh eyes’ looking into three missing Cowichan Tribes men

First Nations want answers to their disappearances

Pedestrian hit moments after receiving safety reflector from police

The Vancouver Island man was treated for minor injuries by police at the scene

FortisBC LNG site exports first shipment of gas to China

The shipment is part of a pilot project that could see more exports in the future.

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

B.C. to reimburse methadone patients for taking clinic fees off welfare cheques

Provincial government agrees to pay back more than $5.5 million in deducted fees

Royal Bank of Canada to consolidate two Courtenay branches

As a result of declining traffic, the south Courtenay branch of the… Continue reading

Most Read