armyworms’ rapid movement across a lawn to devour its bermudagrass can be quite alarming; their ravenous feeding can leave your yard devastated in just days with chewed up and brown grass patches.
Good news is that properly maintained lawns can recover from armyworm infestations. Mowing at the correct height for each type of turf and controlling grassy weeds are two great ways to restore an overrun lawn.
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As spring arrives, temperatures begin to warm and armyworm moths become active. These nonselective feeders can devastate both crops and grasses alike – including warm-season turfgrasses such as tall fescue and bermudagrass.
Once adult caterpillars emerge, they can be destructive to your yard. Their feeding on leaves, stems and roots of turfgrass is enough to turn it brown and eventually die; and these pests also pose serious problems for farmers worldwide.
These caterpillars typically appear in lawns from late August through December. Their exact timing varies based on climate and location; however, temperatures around 32-38F (1.5-11.1C) during springtime provide ideal conditions for caterpillar growth.
Your lawn can be protected against an attack by armyworms by taking several preventive steps. Aerate annually, remove thatch regularly and keep the area clear of weeds and wild grasses. Furthermore, spray liquid pesticide onto your lawn to reduce population.
Before spraying, it’s advisable to check for signs of armyworm infestation. Such signs include patches of brown or tan grass, chewed-up grass blade tips and birds pecking at your yard – birds tend to feed off these caterpillars!
Recognizing a possible armyworm outbreak early is key to successfully treating it and mitigating damage quickly. If any of these signs appear, contact Weed Man immediately so they can minimize damage.
Your Weed Man professional can identify armyworms and recommend treatments if necessary to protect your lawn investment from costly, time-consuming damage caused by these pests. Reach out today to find out more about our lawn care services or schedule an appointment; we look forward to hearing from you!
The Fall Armyworm (Spodotera frugiperda) is the species most associated with turfgrass damage seen in residential landscapes, specifically Bermudagrass and tall fescue. If left unchecked, this voracious caterpillar can quickly devour an entire lawn in short order; while its moths hatching from their cocoons also feed on ornamental flowers, vegetable crops, and even home-grown tomatoes!
Home landscapers can take proactive steps to protect their gardens against armyworm infestation. Watch for the presence of frass (caterpillar fecal pellets), an indicator of larval activity. Keep an eye out for defoliated plants with furry or moldy surfaces or leaves with feeding holes or irregular edges as these will likely indicate defoliated areas or defoliated patches of fur.
An established yard can help deter armyworms, which are most active between early morning and late evening, by using natural horticultural oil or pollinator-friendly insecticides such as Neem oil spray. Regular application will both kill adult armyworms as well as protect young leaves from their feeding.
Chemical insecticides include insect growth regulators that can be applied when the population reaches a threshold to stop more caterpillars from hatching and further increase numbers of caterpillars from emerging. Pyrethroids work by killing caterpillars on contact, while many restricted use pesticides require a license from a pesticide applicator before purchase or application can occur.
Scouting for armyworms in corn and small grain fields, where caterpillars can cause substantial economic loss, is of particular significance. Pay particular attention to areas that have lodged or bordered grass borders with other fields as these serve as ideal egg laying sites.
If egg masses are discovered, treat the area immediately with insecticide. When scouting for tassel-stage corn, minimize defoliation at or above the ear leaf to minimize defoliation, targeting populations per square foot that fall below 25 caterpillars/plant or 75% of plants with one or more larvae; additionally scout adjacent weedy fields to ensure there are no armyworm transfers from those habitats into your crop.
Neem (Aralia mutabilis) plants produce oil that kills or repels many insects and is used in sprays, granules, and soaps to kill or repel these pests. Neem oil comes in concentrated formula that must be diluted prior to application and can be particularly effective against armyworms; killing caterpillars by covering their bodies in oil that blocks breathing openings is most successful against immature armyworms. Neem oil will not harm birds, pollinators, or beneficial insects while being used on both open-leaf plants as well as closed-leaf plants.
Neem oil applied as a spray can reach leaf interiors and disrupt an insect’s metabolic processes, blocking gut linings and producing toxic effects in 6-12 hours that will lead to its death and prevent it from laying eggs. It will also prevent further reproduction.
Neem oil has proven highly effective against armyworms as well as many other insect pests such as aphids, flea beetles, thrips and Japanese beetles. Furthermore, it can help control fungal diseases like powdery mildew by stopping its spores germination and blocking their penetration into healthy leaves.
Ideal insect control strategies should combine natural and synthetic insecticides. When armyworm numbers reach critical mass, more aggressive chemical pesticides may need to be applied; such as Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), or natural extract pyrethrins. Both are proven effective while being less disruptive to bees and pollinators alike; making these an attractive choice for organic growers or gardeners looking for ways to minimize synthetic chemical usage.
Chooks can help decrease armyworm numbers in your yard by acting as natural predators of caterpillars and other leaf-munching insects like armyworms. Alternatively, using an all-purpose organic pesticide like Eco-Neem concentrate – effective against over 200 types of insect pests including armyworms – might also be worth exploring as an option.
Pheromone traps, commonly referred to as Indianmeal moth (Plodia interpunctella) traps, are ideal for monitoring pest infestation in environments where insecticide use is limited or prohibited. These simple devices attract particular pests by simulating their scent – which draws moths directly into the trap so you can count and monitor them easily. These pheromone traps may also be effective against weed growth in areas with dense weedy growth where worms may be hiding – providing another useful application of control!
Moths lay their eggs en masse on grass and tree leaves, where larvae hatch out quickly to cause significant damage. Their feeding leaves behind brown patches of damaged grass that eventually spread throughout a yard – potentially leaving it completely devastated within just days!
As soon as armyworms are detected in your yard, it’s best to act swiftly to limit further damage. If you notice signs of infestation such as chewed plants and green patches in the garden or grass, contact a licensed pest control professional in your area immediately and receive free, no-commitment estimates for treatment services.
As insects can move rapidly, it’s crucial that fields and pastures be regularly monitored. Keep a sharp eye out for feeding damage on young shoots and leaves as well as frass (insect fecal pellets) from insects on plants or the ground as well as large last instar larvae – this approach works particularly well at dawn or dusk and cloudy days when insects are most active.
Notable Fact: Armyworm reproduction depends heavily on temperature; warmer climates will allow populations to increase more quickly while cooler regions may trigger diapauses where larvae stop developing, thus protecting themselves from harsh environments by going into hibernation-like states.
As a general guideline, the first step in combatting an armyworm problem should be picking them out by hand as soon as they emerge from hiding spots. This will prevent further infestation of your garden or yard and its tools; additionally it’s wise to wash gardening tools post-pickout to protect themselves from contamination with eggs masses. An alternative option to hand picking may be spraying an area with nontoxic, natural insecticide such as Neem oil sprays, Bacillus Thuringiensis or Pyrethrin Granules which can effectively treat and deterring armyworms.