A pest that has invaded the South is now in Kentucky.

Bermudagrass stem maggots were found in three hayfields in one county this year, two University of Kentucky Extension workers wrote in the Kentucky Pest News on Nov. 26.

The pests were found in Allen County, say Lee Townsend, Extension entomologist, and Steve Osborn, Allen County ag agent, which is located in the southern part of the state, near the Tennessee border.

The small fly was found in Texas in September and has been spreading across the Southeast since it was first discovered in 2010 in Georgia.

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Adult flies lay eggs on bermudagrass stems. When the larvae hatch, they burrow into shoots to feed. The top few leaves wither and die, which leaves an infested field looking “frosted.”

If growers find the pest one to three weeks after harvest, the management recommendation calls for cutting, baling and removing damaged grass. If the pest is found within a week of the next harvest, producers should harvest as soon as possible to limit damage and prevent it from spreading.

Bermudagrass stem maggot can be controlled with foliar insecticide.

While there are limited acres of bermudagrass grown for hay in Kentucky, producers should keep an eye out for the pest in 2014, Townsend and Osborn wrote. They recommended using sweep nets to check fields.

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