Armyworms are a common pest that many homeowners have seen around the US. But though they were mostly seen in the Southeast and rarely spread to other regions, that has recently changed.
This year, lawn care companies have been swamped dealing with armyworms throughout the entire country, and the infestation is spreading north. Many homeowners were caught completely off-guard and had their lawns destroyed in a matter of hours.
This is why it’s so important to understand what these pests are, the signs of infestation, and how to prevent them.
What are armyworms?
For those who have never dealt with these pests, they are small dark worms (1 to 2 inches in size) that invade in large quantities.
Interestingly, armyworms are not worms – they’re caterpillars. If left unchecked, they will grow into moths. You’ve probably seen these moths many times in your life, without knowing where they originated from.
The theory so far is that this influx of armyworms is due to climate change. They usually spread in late summer and early fall in the Southeast, but this year they’ve spread as far as Texas in the US, so far.
The affected regions as of right now are the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest.
Signs of armyworm infestation
Their prey is lush green lawns and leaves in general, and the first signs of infestation are yellow or brown patches in the lawn appearing suddenly. But in large numbers, they can threaten crops and ruin entire plantations in a few short days.
If you live in the affected regions, you should keep an eye on your lawn. If you notice brown patches appearing overnight, take a good look. Because armyworms are quite large, you can easily see them on the lawn if you inspect them closely.
Another sign is if you see birds flocking over your lawn. They prey on armyworms and will come closer looking for food if you have an infestation. The birds themselves pose no threat to your lawn, they actually help in a way – but their help isn’t enough to get rid of the infestation entirely.
How to get rid of armyworms
There are two main ways you can get rid of armyworms.
The first and best way is to contact a local lawn care company right away. They will have the right methods to handle the infestation quickly and also fix any brown patches that may have appeared.
If an insecticide is required, it’s also best to leave it to the pros, since these substances are toxic and need proper care during application.
However, if your region happens to be overwhelmed with armyworms and you can’t get a pro to look into it quickly, use this DIY method to get rid of armyworms:
- Pour a mixture of water and soap over your lawn in small patches. Any armyworms present therein should rise to the surface, allowing you to target specific regions.
- If you already have a suspicious brown patch, focus on the areas surrounding it first.
- Once you’ve found a patch with armyworms, spray them with a liquid insecticide. You can find these in garden stores, as they need to be specific for armyworms.
When applying this mixture, be careful to not let pets and children near the lawn. If your local lawn care company cannot serve you in time, do ask for guidance – they should help you!
Need to hire a local lawn care company? Get free quotes today from lawn care pros in your area and prevent this lawn disaster!