b'WHEAT HEAD ARMYWORMWheat Head Armyworm a Sporadic, But Insidious PestThe wheat head armyworm are a random threat and hard to find in fields. AN ARMY COULD be invading your field at this very moment, and you might not even know it.The wheat head armyworm is a sporadic pest that feeds on cereal grains such as wheat and barley here in Alberta and the rest of the Prairies. While its usually a minor nuisance, it can occasionally cause significant damage to the kernels of a cereal crop which can result in the crop being downgraded when its screened at an elevator. In fact, one wheat head armyworm can wipe out the equivalent of an entire head of wheat in a single day.Part of the challenge for farmers when it comes to dealing with wheat head armyworms is that they can be extremely difficult to spot in a field, says Tyler Wist, a research scientist in field crop entomology for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).A member of the Noctuidae family of moths, the wheat head armyworm is typically light brown in appearance and can easily blend in with maturing wheat. If wheat isnt yet mature, the armyworm can turn green to match the colour of the still maturing grain. To make matters worse, it usually feeds at night and spends its days on the ground where it isnt likely to be spotted.Often people dont even know they have wheat head armyworm in their fields until they go to harvest, explains Wist, who works out of the AAFCs Saskatoon Research and Development Centre.Another challenge posed by wheat head armyworm is the fact that its highly mobile as an adult, says Scott Meers, a former entomologist for the province of Alberta who now runs his own consulting company. As a result, they can easily migrate from field to field and tend not to stick around in an area for very long.Its kind of a random threat. There isnt usually any kind of indication ahead of time that its going to be a problem, adds Meers, who operates Mayland Agronomy Consulting and Crop Scouting. We typically dont see them very often for a secondA wheat head armyworm on a head of wheat.PHOTO: TYLER WIST98seed.ab.ca'