As the warmer months approach, you might start to notice chewing damage in your garden and crops. This may be due to the Southern armyworm, a common Florida pest. They feed on a variety of crops, including vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals. These caterpillars may vary in color, but are typically identifiable by the black dots surrounding the thorax.
Southern armyworms feed on foliage and cause “window-pane” damage in the leaves. As they mature, they will readily bore into fruit. This is especially a problem on tomatoes.
You may also notice the adults of Southern armyworm, which are brown moths. They have irregular mottled markings on the forewings and white hindwings.
Keep watch for increased populations of this pest in the coming weeks. You can learn more about the biology and management of Southern armyworm in this EDIS publication by Dr. Capinera.