Everyone’s likely heard about the most common lawn pests, right? Grubs, beetles, and the like. But have you ever heard about the armyworm? It’s not too common of a pest thrown around. However, not knowing about this lawn pest can be quite detrimental to your yard. Now, before you start picturing a regular Earthworm dressed in camo and marching along, that is not what an armyworm is. Armyworms are actually a genus of the moth family, and the larvae are what’s dubbed the armyworm. These pests are extremely destructive in their larvae form and will feed on grass like being at an all-you-can-eat buffet after a fast. Here are a few things to know about armyworms and how to tell if they’ve infiltrated your yard.
Armyworms Attack Mostly Bermudagrass
As far as turfgrass goes, armyworms tend to stick to bermudagrass rather than St. Augustine. So that’s good news for anyone who has chosen the latter for their yard. For bermudagrass growers, this applies to you. The larvae, or caterpillars, feed on the blades of grass, not the actual roots. So in essence, they’re mowing the lawn for you – just not the way you’d like. While most armyworms don’t cause serious damage, if you have a whole brood chowing down, you’ll notice some major differences in your yard’s appearance.
How To Tell If You Have Armyworms
The first way you’ll see if you have armyworms is when areas of your yard begin to turn brown. While this also could be a handful of other reasons, keep an eye out for small caterpillars climbing around. Additionally, you might start noticing more birds in your yard than usual. Birds love to indulge in the larvae and if you see them rooting around, that might signal a problem. Take a closer look at your grass and you’ll likely see small holes in the blades or chunks missing like they’ve been eaten.
You can even see which larval stage the armyworm is in depending on what your blades of grass look like. When the armyworm is smaller, it doesn’t eat the entire blade, just scalps it lightly. But as the armyworm grows into different stages, the appetite and eating habits change. In the last two larval stages, the armyworm will consume about 75-80% of the total mass needed for the remainder of their larval lifespan, which is when your grass will take the biggest hit.
But here’s the problem if you just let these pests go – the life cycle will continue. The moths will emerge, which will then lay eggs in the grass, which will then turn into grass-destroying larvae! See how this can be a predicament?!
How To Get Rid Of Armyworms
If you know about armyworms and think they are at the root of your yard’s problems, then it’s time to take action before extreme destruction occurs. There are a handful of insecticides that you can use in your yard specifically to treat armyworms that can be found at any local hardware store. If you’re not sure if the armyworms are the problem, some professionals suggest dumping a bucket of soapy water with dishwashing detergent over a small area of your lawn. Within ten minutes, you should see caterpillars rising to the surface.
Did you know about armyworms and the damage they can cause? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section! As always, if you need some help getting your lawn back in tip-top shape after armyworm damage, you can always call on us at Handsome Lawn Care.