Armyworms are Marching into Madison County!!
August is always a peak time for armyworm activity, but 2016 may be the worst year yet. Going to bed with a beautiful green lawn and waking up to a brown, half-eaten lawn is quite a shock to most homeowners. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about armyworms:
1.What are they?
Armyworms are the caterpillar of a moth. As pictured above, they are often black with green/yellow stripes. While they primarily eat grass blades, they have been known to eat certain types of vegetables too. They love well manicured bermuda lawns!
2.Do I have them?
Before noticing turf damage , a homeowner may first see moths flying around on the prop
erty. This usually is followed by a large number of birds coming down to feast on the caterpillars. The most obvious sign will be a lawn that was previously green quickly becoming brown, either in spots or across the entire property.
3.How do I treat them?
One word, “Quickly!”. An untreated lawn with a large infestation can easily be devoured over a period of 2-3 days. The good news is that armyworms can be fairly easily managed by homeowners with access to a spreader or sprayer and chemicals sold at local garden centers. Professional pest control companies are well-equipped to manage infestations for homeowners not wishing to go the “do-it-yourself” route.
4.Which chemicals do I use?
Most local garden centers have a variety of insecticides(typically pytheroids, though we have recently seen an expansion of different classes of insecticides) that come in either a liquid or granular formulation. Utilizing either a backpack sprayer for liquids or rotary or drop spreader for granular formulations, a homeowner can usually treat the average-sized lawn in less than an hour.
5.Which is better?
Liquid, Granular or Both? We prefer utilizing a dual chemical approach in most situations. Liquid insecticides work quickly but do not have much residual action and are easily washed off with rain or irrigation. Granular insecticides work a little more slowly but may also have residual activity that helps prevent armyworm re-infestations.
Do I just need to treat the spots where I see armyworm activity? We recommend treating the entire lawn as it is not uncommon to miss spots of armyworm activity which can lead to additional turf damage.
How do I know if they are gone? Armyworms are often active in the early morning, cooler hours. This is an excellent time to inspect the lawn and driveways/sidewalks for addtional armyworms.
Will they come back? It is not uncommon to see a re-infestation of armyworms between 2 and 4 weeks after the initial infestation. The same treatments listed above should be repeated for any additional infestations.
At Synergy², we love working with do-it-yourself homeowners to help them solve pest control and weed control problems on their own. As the owner of Synergy, this is how I learned and I am happy to provide this information free-of-charge to any homeowners interested in going the do-it-yourself route. Like us on Facebook and Twitter to subscribe to timely tips about your home and lawn. If you have additional questions, I am always available by cell or text at 601-624-6360.
Barry Pitts, R.Ph.
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