Fall Armyworm Alert!

What You Should Know About Them!

It's that time of year when lawn lovers across our beautiful Southern landscape begin to see the invasion of fall armyworms.

No lawn is immune, but they especially love the tenderness of new sod and newly seeded lawns.

Fall armyworms are the larvae of a small brownish-gray moth.   The moths fly and lay egg masses in unexpected places such as house siding, signs, fences, car sides, and on tree leaves.  The eggs hatch a few days later.   At first, the tiny caterpillars are green with a black head, but as they devour the grass over a course of 14 days or so, they change to brown with while lines on the side and a reddish-brown head.  They can grow to more than an inch long.  

These caterpillars are sneaky assassins moving only at night and crawling into silk-lined burrows in the day.  You may first notice the presence as a brown patch of lawn that gets bigger every day.  

Fall armyworms have many stages. They go from eggs > caterpillars > pupae > moths. Moths lay the eggs and the cycle repeats itself. The caterpillar phase does the damage to our lawns.

fall armyworms

We are already starting to see fall armyworms, so please educate yourself and look for these signs:

-Increased bird activity pecking on your lawn

-Discolored or damaged-looking sod that looks like it has been exposed to frost

-The damage begins on one side of the lawn and moves across

-Egg masses as described above

-A soap flush (described below) reveals the caterpillars

This is what a damaged lawn can look like:

damaged lawn

Soap Flush Test for Pests
A soap flush is a mixture of 3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of water. We find that lemon-scented dish soap is the most effective. Pour the mixture into a 3' x 3' area and watch the action. The soap will agitate the caterpillars' skin and they will come to the surface - you can see them and then you will know to treat for them immediately.

If you see signs of fall armyworms, contact a turf lawn care company ASAP!
Recommended company:  Arbor Nomics 770-447-6037