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Do You have Armyworms Marching In?

What are Armyworms?

Counties across Ohio are seeing an outbreak of fall armyworms in their lawns. Armyworms are destructive pests that mostly forage on turf grasses but will also attack vegetables as well as other plants when food is scarce. Heavy infestations can destroy a lawn in just a few days.

There are several species of armyworms that can affect lawns and crops. When hatched the tiny green caterpillars with dark heads and usually marked with a pale inverted “Y” eat for the next 14 days. 

How Can I Identify An Armyworm Problem?

Small brown patches in your lawn are often the first clue of an armyworm problem. Your grass blades may appear ragged, chewed or transparent. Grass may be sheared to the ground creating bare spots in your lawn. Since they are a good source of food themselves, armyworms attract skunks, rodents, and birds that feed on larvae hidden in your turf, if you spot areas of scratched or disturbed lawn this may indicate an infestation.  

What Can I Do To Get Rid of Armyworms?

Armyworms can feed around the clock, but their most active times are early morning and late evening. It is a good idea to time your treatments to coincide with their highest activity levels to maximize results.

  • Keep crabgrass out of your lawn, this is often used as a host for the armyworms.

  • Remove thatch from your yard and check it for armyworm webbing.

  • Water and nourish the lawn, especially during droughts. A healthy lawn may be able to tolerate a minor low level armyworm infestation without using insecticides.

  • Contact a pest management professional to find out if insecticides are necessary.