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Invasion of worms not problem

DON JOHNSON, a University of Arkansas entomologist, said he's getting numerous inquiries about hordes of worms inching their way across Arkansas roads.

“Farmers worry about them, thinking they're armyworms,” said Johnson, who's with the Cooperative Extension Service. Armyworms, which also travel in large numbers, can devastate crops and pastures. Motorists are amazed at the seemingly endless numbers of worms crossing roadways.

Not to worry though. They are only the larval stage of the sphinx or hummingbird moth, a common insect in Arkansas. Far from being a threat to crops, these are beneficial worms that eat weeds, the cutleaf evening primrose.

Johnson described the worm as yellow to green and up to 3.5 inches long. He said they are in the same family as the catalpa worm and the tomato hornworm.

He said these worms migrate to greener pastures in large numbers when they exhaust a food supply. Later in their life cycle, they will turn into a moth.

“They're really fast flyers, and the adults feed on the nectar in flower blooms. They hover, looking like hummingbirds. You see a lot of them at night.”

He said the worms will soon settle down and spin cocoons in preparation for the transformation to moths about a week to 10 days later.

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