"Army" of Invaders Decimate Crops in Erie County | News
AKRON, N.Y.- Some farm fields in Erie County have be transformed into battlefields, and the invasion of armyworms could have devastating effects.
"Just yesterday we started hearing about it, and we went looking and we found them," said Jim Wideman, owner of Wideman Farms in Akron.
Wideman says one of his fields has already been totally destroyed by the bugs, which, despite their common name, are actually caterpillars.
Hans Mobius, of Maple Row Farms in Clarence, says his fields are also taking a hit.
The crop-decimating pests have been recorded in every state east of the Rockies, but they're usually based in the South. Experts say if they weather's good enough for the troops to press north, most of their natural enemies are left behind-- leaving farmers in Western New York fighting a battle they know little about.
"We've heard of them, but we've never seen it," said Wideman.
"It's just incredible how they can eat up a field, in one day, they can take a field down," said Mobius.
Army worms are known for methodically destroying grasses, as well as crops like corn, wheat and hay-- and it's the hay Mobius and Wideman are worried about. They use the hay to feed their livestock.
"It could be devastating," said Mobius. "We're going to have to buy hay from elsewhere, when generally with these fields we get thousands of bales of hay from these fields."
The problem has left farmers to adopt a take-no-prisoners approach.
"They're in everything," said Wideman. "The wheat fields, we had those sprayed to kill them, that seemed to work, but the stalk was already stripped."
Until the dust clears, it won't be clear whether the invaders or the farmers will be able to declare victory.
"If it ends today, it's not that bad, but they say they eat for three weeks, so we have no idea what it will be like in three weeks," said Wideman.