How to Prevent Armyworms from Wreaking Havoc on Your Beloved Garden

Armyworms

If you have ever seen your garden plants skeletonized overnight, then you have witnessed the destructive power of the armyworm. These larvae of different species of moths have a ferocious appetite and will strip any plant bare. Armyworms get their name because of how they march across a lawn like an army, devouring every plant in their path. Signs of armyworm activity may appear as a brown patch in your grass that gets bigger every day or skeletonized plants.

 

Life Cycle

Armyworms can be found in every state east of the Mississippi. Armyworm moths lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, but they can lay them just about anywhere. When temperatures are warm, the eggs will hatch in five to 10 days, and new caterpillars will emerge and begin to feed. Then they will burrow into the soil and, after several weeks, will mutate a final time and emerge as adult moths. Armyworms can have several generations in a single year, and in warm climates, they are active all year. 

The life cycle of an armyworm varies from species to species but tends to be 30-90 days from egg to adult stage. Adult moths typically live for only nine to 14 days. It may be a short life, but she can do a lot of damage in that amount of time. A female can lay 1000-1500 eggs in her short life.

 

Damagearmyworm on a damaged leaf

In the spring, larvae stay close to their web-like nests within the grass. Here they will feed on low growing turf. Later in the season, they become mobile and start to climb up grass and other plants in search of food. Armyworms are not picky when it comes to food. They will munch on grasses such as bermuda and zoysia and crops, including peanuts, corn, lettuce, cabbage, and soybeans. Their favorite food is corn. Sometimes you’ll find them when you pull back the husk from an ear of corn. 

 

Armyworm Control

The key to controlling armyworms is spotting them early. After you have positively identified them, there are several environmentally friendly ways you can deal with them.

 

Organic Armyworm Control

An excellent choice for armyworm control is a harmless bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, also referred to as BT. The bacteria kills young caterpillars but will not work on mature caterpillars. BT is available in both liquid and powdered forms and will also eliminate other garden pests such as cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, tomato hornworms, and cutworms as well as others.

nematode

Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic soil-dwellers that love to feed on the larvae of many insects in their pupal form, including grubs. Nematodes feed on over 200 pests that can damage your lawn.

 

Beneficial Insects

Several beneficial insects will help you win your war on armyworms. 

  • Parasitic wasps: These wasps may seem scary but are harmless to humans and feed on garden pests that love to feed on our plants.
  • Ladybugs: Ladybugs can be purchased in bulk to be unleashed on destructive garden pests. Ladybugs will eat any armyworm eggs that they come across.
  • Lacewings: Also, feed on the eggs of armyworms.

 

Attract Birds

Birds are the natural predator for armyworms in any stage, including adult moths. Put up bird feeders or plant trees that attract a variety of birds to encourage them to pick the armyworms out of your lawn.

 

Hire A Professional Lawn Care Company

At 4EvergGreen, we have years of experience dealing with the pests that plague Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama lawns. If you have problems with armyworms or any other type of lawn pest, give us a call, and we will help you take control of your yard back.

Contact us at one of our three locations: (731) 264-0088 for Ridgely, TN.  (731) 736-4201 for Jackson, TN. or (731)497-6001 for Spanish Fort, AL. Keep up with the latest tips and tricks in tree care, lawn care, pest control, and more by following our monthly blog and YouTube channel.