CLARENDON, N.Y. — "I'd never seen 'em in that big of an invasion,” said Bill Guilford.
It’s 9 a.m. in Orleans County, and the army worms are at it again.
"They were coming out of that field of wheat across the road."
If you look hard at Guilford’s lawn, you begin to see it… moving.
"They were almost like a rope,” said Guilford, “all the way across. Where you can see this line: this is what they ate, then you can see where they were moving."
“The good news is, I probably won't have to mow the lawn."
Army worms have been around us for years. They’re especially well-known in the southern United States. The worms were even a running gag on the old “Winnie the Pooh” TV show.
But this is the first year anyone in Western New York can remember the worms actually acting like an army.
"Of course, an army marches on its stomach,” said Pete Swendsen.
The Swendsen Farm in Genesee County is fighting back.
"If we can eliminate their feed source, I think it's going to help eliminate them,” he said.
Swendsen isn’t spraying chemicals on the bugs. As a certified organic farm, he’s not allowed.
“We went ahead of them, and cut the hay and harvested it, and they seem to walk over those fields, because there's no food there."
Worms have already cost Swendsen $15,000 in seed. Still, Swendsen says he wouldn't spray pesticide, even if he could.
"We've got a lot of beneficial insects in our crop lands, because we don't spray. We see a lot of ladybugs; we see a lot of lacewings. We see a lot of different flies and wasps and bees, of course. Praying mantis, they're my favorite – they came out, and they eat a lot of bad insects."
And what doesn’t kill his farm can only make it stronger.
"Next year, or even this year. Once these worms mature, they're going to turn into moths, they're going to lay more eggs,” Swendsen said. “When they do come back, we hope to have enough parasites that are after them, that they're going to control them."
But everyone would really like to see this army march back where it came from.