Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Logo

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Logo

Thursday, November 9, 2023

New Fall Armyworm Publication

 Howdy all!

In the last week, we have both seen and heard reports of armyworm complex pests in pastures and fields. The armyworm complex consists of several species of armyworms, including fall armyworms.

Texas A&M AgriLife has recently released an up-to-date publication on fall armyworm control in pastures, which is attached below. To pick up a copy, please come by the Wharton County Extension Office at 315 E Milam St, Wharton, TX.

Have a good week,

Sarah Marsh

IPM Program Specialist

Monday, October 23, 2023

Desert Termites Sighting in Pastures

Howdy everyone! 

Photo by Sarah Marsh

We have had some questions come in about these particular tunnels that producers have been sighting in their pastures lately. These tunnels are caused by desert termites, also known as agricultural termites (Gnathamitermes tubiformans).


TAMU Extension Entomology SmugMug

Habitat and Activity

Like other termites, this species is a social insect that lives in colonies deep (up to 4 feet) in the soil and contain thousands of individuals. Their biology is similar to the subterranean termite.

Worker termites are active on the soil surface at night or in cooler periods throughout the day. Peak activity is from March through September and can increase after rainy periods; moisture softens the soil and encourages new colonies.

Desert termites do not harm man-made structures but instead remove surface matter from the plants that they encase. Their diet consists of living and dry forage grasses, legumes, and other plants which become digested by symbiotic flagellated protozoans that inhabit the termite digestive system. Their tunnels, which are called "carton" tubes, can cover about 6% of the soil surface in May through September on shortgrass rangeland, particularly in overgrazed areas or dry years.

Pest Status

Desert termites are common in south and west Texas and are noticeable in rangelands. In pastures, their feeding activities can reduce forage for livestock. However, the level of economic injury is not generally held to be significant; in fact, some sources say that the feeding activities of desert termites may encourage more plant-available nutrients and moisture retention. Desert termites are medically harmless to man and animals.

Destruction of the desert termite tubes with rakes and chains is no longer a recommended practice. There are no chemicals labelled for use against desert termites, but research is ongoing.

Have a great week,

Sarah Marsh

IPM Extension Specialist