Question: Pest Alert! Be on the lookout for Fall Armyworms in lawns.
Answer: The fall armyworm is a caterpillar that can cause a great deal of damage to lawns during late summer and fall. Fall armyworms cause damage by feeding on all of the green above ground plant parts, which can retard plant growth or even cause death to your lawn. Usually, parasitic enemies help manage the fall armyworm larvae, however during cold wet springs this natural control method is not as effective. The major host for this pest insect is grasses. They have the potential to damage golf courses, home lawns, and pastures.
Armyworms measure approximately 35 to 50 mm long and can be green, brown, or black depending on maturity. Fall armyworms feed anytime throughout the day, typically they are most active during the morning or late in the evening. They feed for approximately two to three weeks and then they dig into the ground to pupate.
They can be difficult to control by chemicals, however treatment is more effective if you mow your lawn before applying the control application. Pyrethroids, carbaryl, and acephate can provide control when caterpillars are small. Timing is essential when attempting to control fall armyworms. A soapy water mixture poured on questionable areas of a lawn can be helpful in determining if you have an infestation.
Reminder: A growing program this year is the “Sampson County Friends of Horticulture.” This program offers monthly “How To” Horticultural Seminars. Please call (910) 592-7161 for more information. Please call the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center at (910) 592-7161 with your horticultural questions and to register for any upcoming events. Be sure to check out the Ask An Expert Widget at sampson.ces.ncsu.edu for any questions you may have.