Is your lawn turning brown, laid flat, and looks like a steamroller just ran through it? It may not be compacted soil or even a grub infestation. Do your grass blades appear chewed upon? It could be armyworms. These often misunderstood moth larvae attack without notice, move in army formation from one host to the next, and damage plants very quickly. Here in the Forney, Texas area, there has been an increased number of major armyworm outbreaks that have occurred over the past few years. Learn how to identify the damage they cause, everything there is to know about this lawn and garden destroyer, and how you can help prevent and eliminate them.
Armyworms get their name because they march across your lawn like an army, devouring everything in their wake. Here in Texas, we have four different kinds of armyworms. The most common is the fall armyworm. It is roughly one inch to five and a half inches long. They are light green or tan in their early growth and dark green or brown in later stages. You can usually tell an armyworm based on the series of green, yellow, or brown stripes down the length of their bodies.
Adult armyworms lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, and when the temperatures are warm, the eggs hatch, producing new caterpillars that feed. These new caterpillars then borrow into your soil, and after several weeks, they mutate into their final stage and emerge as adult moths. They have very short life cycles but can do a ton of damage in that amount of time.
Armyworms don’t just eat grass. They plague a number of agricultural crops including, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, cucumber, potatoes, and especially their favorite, corn. Sometimes you’ll find them when you pull back the husk from an ear of corn. They feed on the tender growth of their host plants, sometimes consuming the whole plant before moving to the next one. When food becomes scarce during the hot, dry months, they typically head to the next best thing, your lawn.
Armyworms can destroy your turf and/or garden in a matter of days. The small larvae chew on low-growing turf and leave a clearing known as the “windowpane” effect. They can cause lawn discoloration and a mass amount of brown spots. You may first notice their presence as a brown patch of lawn that gets bigger every day. Then one day, you may wake up to find there is nothing but dirt left where you once had a yard. It can feel like an army just embarked on a war zone inside your property.
Stop Them Early With Bacillus Thuringiensis
The key to defeating the army is to stop them early before they do much damage. After you have positively identified them, there are several ways to deal with them. If you catch them while the caterpillars are a half-inch long or smaller, you can spray your lawn with a harmless bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis that only kills caterpillars and is environmentally friendly. It 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, etc. For adult caterpillars, you can buy garden insecticides labeled for armyworms at your local garden supply store.
Now that sounds like a science fiction word! Nematodes are not eight-foot super spiders from a sci-fi movie. They are microscopic soil dwellers that love to feed on the larvae of many insects in your grass, including armyworms and grubs. Some species harm plant roots, so be careful if you decide to go this route. They are safe to use, safe for your soil, and won’t harm bees and other pollinators. They are easy to apply, quick to work, and cost-effective. However, this process can be challenging as the timing has to be precise and the conditions accurate. The entire process can look like something out of a horror movie as the nematodes seek out and destroy their prey, and some species can harm your plant’s roots. So before using this method, be sure you are following accurate instructions and know exactly what you are getting into.
Attract Birds to Your Forney Texas Lawn
Birds love their armyworms at any stage, so put up a few bird feeders and plant trees that attract birds. Robins and starlings are especially fond of having armyworms as their favorite meal.
Your friends at LawnLab can help. We offer effective armyworm control as part of our targeted lawn treatments. While it’s best to treat armyworms early, we can help with even severe infestations. Our bug extermination treatments will get rid of the pests and prevent them from returning. We can address any pest control challenges that are impacting your Forney area lawn. Learn more by calling 1-866-529-6522 or contacting us here now.