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Armyworms invade cornfields in central Minnesota

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Cute and fuzzy they may be, but armyworms are apparently doing some serious crop damage in central Minnesota.

The Associated Press reports out of Avon that the caterpillar is being cited for an outbreak of damaged crops, though the extent of it is not known.

Both the Brainerd Dispatch and the St. Cloud Times tell tales of infestations that have chewed up 17 and 20 acres, respectively.

“This pretty much says it all when you drive right through your corn and you don’t even care,” one farmer tells the St. Cloud paper.

"It looks like cactuses out there," another tells the Dispatch. "I don't know what to do. I've never had it before. She's just about totally gone.”

A crop consultant from Sauk Rapids tells the St. Cloud paper that the area - Rice County - hasn't been hit with the armyworm since the 1990s.

Wait. What is the armyworm?

Technically it's a caterpillar, not a worm, as this University of Minnesota page explains about the hungry critters. In fact, on another U web page, it is noted that the "caterpillars are commonly, but mistakenly, called 'armyworms.'"

What they are is "forest tent caterpillars," says the state's DNR. After feasting on all our food, they will become moths.

But what they really are is pests, cute and sluggish as they may seem.

“They do almost all their damage in the last week of their life,” one farmer tells the Brainerd paper. “They can make a field disappear overnight.”

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