There’s An Army Marching Against Your Tennessee Lawn
- September 20, 2021
They’re small. They’re hungry. They’ll leave your turfgrass looking like a Biblical plague of locusts struck. Except this isn’t a plague of locusts – it’s an armyworm invasion. They are renowned for their insatiable appetite that leaves lawns stripped bare. And because these caterpillars feed at night, you might not notice you have a problem until you wake up in the morning to a barren lawn. Learn how to identify this destructive pest and what you can do to combat it.
As you might have guessed, armyworms get their name from the characteristic way they go marching across golf courses, athletic fields, cornfields, and business and residential lawns. They can be found in every state, and last month is typically when they begin to emerge. Adult armyworms have dark grey coloring and wings with light and dark splotches. Another identifying characteristic is the inverted capital “Y” shape on their heads. Their larvae, the caterpillars that ruin lawns, can be dark greenish-brown to black in color. There have long, white, orange, and dark brown stripes along the length of their abdomen on each side. While they’re most infamous for ruining lawns, armyworms will seek out anywhere to lay their eggs: blades of grass, fences, walls, storage, sheds, and of course, your lawn. Females can lay hundreds of eggs in clusters that appear off-white in color. The incubation period for these eggs can be anywhere from 5 to 10 days.
After hatching, armyworm caterpillars create web-like nests in your grass. These web tunnels allow them to take shelter in the lawn during the day and feed safely at night. As they begin to grow into adults, they will venture farther and farther up the blades of grass until they can seek out other food sources. They will dine on pretty much any plant they can get their hands on, though corn is actually their preferred meal. As mentioned previously, armyworms are active at night, so unless you’re taking the time to go outside with a flashlight and scour the lawn, you probably won’t notice the caterpillars themselves. Still, you’ll certainly notice the damage they leave behind. Some of the signs of armyworm damage include the following:
There are several tactics you can use to fight armyworms.
Sometimes in nature, you can actually control one bug by introducing another. You can also use a type of bacteria, believe it or not.
There’s a harmless bacterial called Bacillus thuringiensis, also referred to as BT. Available in both liquid and powdered forms, it will help with armyworms and cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, tomato hornworms, cutworms, and others. There is one catch: this treatment will not work on mature, egg-laying armyworms. It is only effective against their larvae.
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 like armyworms.
Ladybugs – Ladybugs will devour not only armyworms but also aphids, another common lawn pest.
Lacewings – Another common and harmless bug that you can unleash on armyworms.
You may not have heard of this last option, but it’s becoming increasingly popular. Nematodes are microscopic soil dwellers that feed on the larvae of many harmful and damaging insects, including armyworms.
The best way to fully tackle armyworms is by calling a professional pest control company. Armyworm damage can easily be mistaken for other pests, like grubs, and the longer they are allowed to linger in your lawn, the worse the damage will get. The use of nematodes and predatory bugs can be messy, and insecticides are tricky. You need to make sure they are safe to use on plants and follow the correct time frame when applying them. Instead, you can take out all the guesswork and let the professionals handle it.
Let the experts at 4-EverGreen Lawn Care handle the hard work. We’re pleased to offer armyworm control as well as lawn care services. Our team has the training and equipment to get the job done correctly and safely. And we can help you restore any damage the armyworms may have caused. Get your lawn on the road to recovery.
To learn more, give us a call at the following: