Where Do Armyworms Live
Because most cant survive freezing temps, armyworms are largely found in the South where their snack of choice is bermudagrass. That doesnt mean your cool-season turf is necessarily safe, though. In summer, adult moths will ride the winds of a tropical storm, and each one will lay thousands of eggs up North. The larvae from those moths are commonly called fall armyworms, and theyll happily chow down on your lawn before a big chill sets in.
How Armyworms Can Damage Your Lawn
Largely found in the South, especially on bermuda grass, armyworms can infest lawns and cause severe damage. Adult armyworm moths sometimes ride storm fronts into the North, though, so its important to keep an eye out in any region. Look for small patches of brown grass with the edges of the blades chewed. Some blades may be completely eaten.
What Is The Armyworm
Essentially armyworms are caterpillars. They love grassy pastures, gardens, vegetable patches and the like. They are also particularly fond of cereal and rice crops. The armyworm has a voracious appetite, and when you get an infestation of them, they can devour and destroy crops and vegetables in no time flat.
The armyworm is a widespread problem right across Australia, and nowhere in the country is immune to possible armyworm issues. There are three common species found in the country, and they are:
- Common Armyworm
- Southern Armyworm
- Inland Armyworm
Although they are most active and cause the most damage during autumn and winter, the armyworm can also be a real pest in spring when they eat the newly sown seeds. Rice crops are most affected in summer months when the worms eat through the stems of the rice stalks and lop off the head of the plant.
Upon reaching adulthood, armyworms transform into moths. These moths grow a wingspan of about 40mm and are tan to light brown in colour. Each fore wing has a tiny white spot centred on it.
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What To Look For
Armyworms can come and go in a very short period of time. In fact, by the time most people know theyve reached their property, its almost too late to stop them.
To stay ahead of this brutal buggy brigade, you have to know exactly what youre looking for. Some signs of infestation include:
- Nibbled blades of grass with a ragged appearance
- Skeletonized leaves eaten down to the stem
- Discolored grass
- A large number of birds feeding on your lawn
- Green fecal pellets in the damaged areas
Testing Methods To Check For Army Worms
There are several ways to determine whether you have army worms on your lawn.
One method is to pour a mixture of water with detergent over a small area of the lawn. You should then monitor the area for 10-15 minutes for the appearance of caterpillars on the surface of the lawn.
Alternatively, you can go hunting for army worms at night. Armed with a good lawn, you should survey the lawn at ground level for signs of active caterpillars. Begin the search at the damaged area of turf, and spread outwards from there.
Another sign of possible caterpillar infestation is the presence of adult moths at night. Adult army worm moths will lay their eggs at night, so a large population of moths seen flying around your garden at night may be an indication of an army worm invasion.
If you are unsure whether you have found army worms on your lawn, you may find it useful to gather some caterpillars in a container and take them to your local garden centre for positive identification. Your garden centre expert will also be able to advise on the best insecticide for your lawn.
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Armyworm Control: How To Get Rid Of Army Worms
Army worms are the larvae of moths and are common turf pests in yards and landscapes. As larvae, Armyworms feast on a variety of crops as well as turfgrasses. When multiplying in large numbers, they often move together toward new areas to consume food which resembles a marching army–hence the origin of their name.
Mainly found in the Southern part of the United States, Army worms like to reside on turf such as bermudagrass and infest lawns causing moderate to severe damage. Signs of trouble from Armyworms may appear in the form of brown grass which novice lawn owners mistake for the grass not getting enough sunlight or water. What actually is happening is Armyworms are chewing blades of grass, zapping the plant of it’s nutrition.
If you are dealing with Army worms on your lawn or garden, our professional DIY treatment guide can help. Compiled by our staff of lawn care experts, this guide can help you step-by-step in eliminating Fall Armyworms quickly and affordably. Follow the directions provided along with using our recommended products and we guarantee success in killing the Armyworm population on your lawn.
S To Help Your Lawn Recover From Faw Damage
- After you’ve applied your insecticide treatments and if it’s been four weeks since you fertilized, we recommend applying 5-10-30 fertilizer with Acelepryn to your lawn ASAP to give it a boost in regrowing and provide continued protection.
- Thoroughly water your lawn until it greens back up. This is important for established sod, but is especially important for new sod that does not have the root structure in place to help it recover. Water, water, water!
While warm season grasses, given proper care, will typically recover from FAW damage, damage to tall fescue is often much more significant.
Tall Fescue lawns simply do not have the same tolerance to FAW activity, particularly if it is not very well established. As a result, FAW damage in tall fescue often requires overseeding or re-sodding in order to repair the damage. A new lawn can go from fine one day, to a complete loss in as little as 24 to 48 hours. Tall fescue users cannot take the FAW threat too lightly.
We are here to help you if you have any questions about diagnosis or treatment.
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Regularly Check For Eggs
Perform regular checkups on your garden and especially keep an eye out for moth eggs. Theyll look like cottony little clumps on the underside of leaves.
As you spot them, slide the eggs off the leaves and crush them between your fingers.
Moreover, this is by far the most effective method for small farmers to get rid of armyworms on tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, and other crops, as it prevents them from hatching in the first place.
When Should I Worry About Armyworms
Armyworms should be considered a real lawn problem when they occur in large numbers or your lawn damage is excessive.
Fall armyworm attacks usually occur in late summer and early fall.
Count the number of army worms in a square foot area of your lawn in eight different sites. Divide the total worm count by 8 to find the average number of army worms your lawn has. More than three to four armyworms per square foot is considered excessive and you should treat your lawn for the pest.
Be sure to take samples from the interior of your lawn because thats where theyre at their heaviest concentrations.
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Where Fall Armyworms Invade
Fall armyworms infest just about every state east of the Mississippi, but are the most problematic in the Southeast. That’s because where autumn comes early up north, they may be limited to one or two generations per year. In the South, you can get twice as many. Yay! Twice the chance of having a bare dirt yard! Let’s turn on the sprinkler and play in the mud right now!
What Do Army Worms Look Like
Contrary to the name, army worms are caterpillars. Theyre about 1 ¾ inches long. They are most active at night and tend to hide underneath garden and lawn debris during the day.
Fall army worms, the ones that cause the most havoc in Texas lawns, are brown with yellow stripes.
They get their name because they travel in small insect packs, marching along like little armies and consume just about everything in their path .
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How To Prevent Armyworms From Coming Back
Lawn care best practices can keep armyworms from mounting a second attack. Always maintain good cultural practices such as mowing, reducing thatch and lightly irrigating your lawn, Wagner says. Building a healthy lawn will help it withstand minor infestations of armyworms.
Aerate your lawn annually. Add about 1/4-inch of organic materials such as peat moss to eliminate thatch buildup, which can harbor armyworm grubs.
Regularly water your lawn. Armyworms prefer turf that is dry and warm. About one inch of water a week including rainfall is enough, explains Wagner. A well-watered lawn makes the soil surface cooler and is less attractive to armyworms.
Cut your grass no shorter than two inches and keep weeds and wild grasses to a minimum.
Fertilize. Although fertilizer doesnt treat infestations, a proper fertilizer schedule will help your lawn remain strong and endure stress a little better, Wagner says.
Check for armyworm moths and grubs regularly. The earlier you catch an infestation, the easier it is to treat.
Detecting Army Worms In Your Lawn
As army worms are dormant at the soil level during the day, it can be hard to detect these pests before damage has already been done.
Signs that you may have army worms include evidence of skeletonised leaves, chewed leaf tips, scalloping of grass leaves along the margins, or complete defoliation of the plant.
Larvae faeces, known as frass, is also a sign of army worm infestation. These may look like tiny green-yellow pellets within the lawn.
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What Damage Do Armyworms Cause
Armyworms have a seemingly endless appetite for grass. Moving as a group, theyll march across a lawn in a matter of days and leave a yard full of brown, chewed-up grass in their wake. They quickly move onto the next feeding opportunity, so if your neighbor mentions an armyworm problem, get prepared.
How To Control Armyworms
Armyworms have a number of natural enemies and in most years the population can be kept under control. Natural predators like some varieties of wasps and flies are effective in keeping armyworms at bay. Ground beetles also help limit armyworm infestation. Birds, rodents and skunks can consume large numbers of larvae and pupae.
To control armyworms, keep your lawn healthy. Mow grass to the correct height for the variety and keep grassy weeds under control, as these can attract egg-laying adults.
Armyworms should be controlled before they appear in large numbers or the damage caused by them can become extensive.
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How Do I Know If I Have Fall Armyworms
- If your sod has become discolored or looks like it has been exposed to frost, you possibly have them.
- Damage often begins on one side of the lawn and moves across, but that is not always the case sometimes it’s in the middle or not as uniform as a text book example. When in doubt, do a soap flush test.
- A large number of birds in a turf area may be a sign of armyworms since they are an excellent food source for birds.
- Notice how you don’t see them everywhere at once on your lawn. They march across from one side of the lawn to another because they hatch from eggs that were deposited adjacent to the lawn. If the FAW came with the sod, they would be everywhere at once eating sod.
- Test for armyworms with a soap flush that brings them to the surface so you can see them and verify their presence. We explain the soap flush test here: Soap Flush Test for Pests
FAW damage across a Tall Fescue lawn, a favorite of fall armyworms.
How You Can Recover Your Lawn
While avoiding an armyworm infestation is more ideal, youll be relieved to know that the damage isnt permanent. You can get your lawn back on track with a little help.
- Step 1: If fall armyworms are still on your turf, schedule an armyworm treatment to keep them from feeding on your lawn and killing large areas.
- Step 2: Regularly watering affected areas can support the regrowth of grass blades.
- Step 3: Inform TruGreen of the damage so your next lawn care visit can include tailored nutrition to foster growth.
- Step 4: For cool season turf such as Tall Fescue or Kentucky Bluegrass, you may consider aeration and overseeding to re-establish the lawn, especially if the crown – the portion between the grass blade and root – is damaged or dead.
If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining a healthy lawn or recovering from an armyworm infestation, the experts at TruGreen are always available to help. Our TruGreen specialists will develop a custom lawn care plan that is tailored to your needs.
For more information about TruGreens range of lawn care services, call 866.688.6722 or check out the services we offer.
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How To Get Rid Of Armyworms
Armyworms are voracious and destructive pests. An infestation can cause significant damage to your lawn and plants if not dealt with promptly. Learn how to identify armyworms before they cause long-term damage. Read this guide for tips on how to get rid ofarmywormsin trees and grass in your yard.
How To Kill & Prevent Armyworms
These caterpillars can completely defoliate your lawn unless you stop them in their tracks.
Armyworms are the larvae of a moth that primarily eat grass blades, but will also eat some vegetables, like beans, cabbage, corn, onion, pepper, pea, and radish. A large armyworm infestation can defoliate an entire lawn in a few days.
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Damage Caused By Armyworms
The first sign of armyworms is often small, brown patches of grass throughout your lawn. They might chew or leave the grass looking ragged, and in some areas, the grass might be eaten all the way to the ground. If you have bare spots on your lawn, armyworms might be the culprit.
One of the easiest ways to distinguish armyworms from other pests is to look at the damage to your garden.
In the spring, the larvae stay close to the ground and feed on grass and other low-growing plants. As they get older and the season progresses, armyworms start to feed on plant leaves and fruit.
One of the characteristic signs of damage caused by armyworms is skeletonized leaves, especially on corn, lettuce, beans, and lettuce leaves.
Armyworms also make shallow holes and gouges in fruit. They prefer corn if its available, burying and feeding on the ears. Sometimes, if you pull back the husk from an ear of corn, youll find several worms throughout the kernels.
You may also see the feces left behind by these pests.
The most common damage caused by armyworms, regardless of the crop they infect, is foliage consumption and destruction.
How To Control Armyworms In The Lawn
These militant moth larvae can really chow down on your grass if you dont fight back.
Aggressive little grass-eaters, armyworms will help themselves to your lawn if not stopped in their tracks. Patches of brown turf and chewed-up blades are a call for helpyour grass needs saving and its time to take action. Heres the lowdown on these tiny tyrants, plus how to kill armyworms and get your grass growing again if theyve tried to conquer your lawn.
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What Treatment Kills Armyworms
Armyworms are surface feedersif your lawn is infested youll see them chomping on the tips of grass bladesand theyre easily controlled by insecticides when caught early in their infestation. If you see armyworm damage or find the pests in your grass, apply Scotts® GrubEx®. Follow all of the label directions, and make sure your lawn is dry when you get out there with your spreader. Then, water regularlythe most severe damage occurs when armyworms attack in hot, dry weather.
Help Your Lawn Recover
How you help your lawn recover from an armyworm infestation depends on how big of an infestation youre dealing with and where youre located.
- Most Southern grass types can bounce back with the help of fertilizer. Apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food, following all label directions, to boost its strength.
- Grass types in the North have a harder time dealing with armyworms, so you may need to overseed your lawn. Simply apply a grass seed designed for your region, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn Sun & Shade, to thicken it back up.
The key to stopping armyworms is keeping an eye out for their presence. Follow these tips and youll be ready to fight back if armyworms try to invade your lawn.
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Check For Moths At Night
The last method is to use a simple light source. To check for moths in your garden area, leave a bright light source in your lawn area at night. After a few hours, go outside to check the light. If you find moths flying around it, this may be a sign of a possible armyworm problem, requiring further investigation.
If you do find caterpillars with any of these methods, then its best to capture a few to take to the local nursery to get them checked for identification. Doing this will help you get the best recommendation for a suitable insecticide for your pest problem.