If you’re seeing creepy caterpillars all over your lawn and landscape, you may have fall army worms!
In September 2016, we had a bad time with a similar pest, sod webworms. And weeks after Harvey last year, we had another bad infestation. And, alas, I’m getting word again of sightings of the moths that usually lead to the devastation brought on by that insect.
But 2018 may turn out to be the year that fall army worms blow up throughout the region. So, let me help you wipe them out before they devastate your lawn.
My fall army worm eradication rules are very similar to those for sod webworms, cutworms and even chinch bugs. In fact, you could just follow those tips, and here are links to everything from the past:
But I have one additional tip for controlling army worms: apply a liquid Bt treatment before you do the three (or more) weekly applications of liquid insecticides. That way, you’ll be adding a bit of organic control that targets only worms and caterpillars. And frankly, any army worm that bites into a Bt-treated blade of grass should get sick and die. Consequently, it won’t have a chance of pupating and becoming the moth that lays the eggs that become the worms that pupate and become the moths, and so forth, and so on.
Liquid Bt is bacillus thuringiensis, a natural bacterium that targets only worms and caterpillars. So, if you want to stay 100 percent organic in your control methods, then several applications of it should do the trick. In the tip sheets above, there’s a focus on liquid insecticides like bifenthrin, permethrin and lambda cyhalothrin. But liquid insecticides like malathion and Sevin® can also be part of the arsenal.
People I sometimes refer to as “manic organics” get a little beside themselves when killing army worms is recommended. They see the worms as a great source of nutrition for birds, and worry that we’ll poison the birds. Others raise chickens, and note that they’ll gobble up any worm in the yard. Both are correct, of course, but few homeowners raise chickens, and there simply aren’t enough birds in a residential community to devour an infestation of army worms. Just ask anyone whose lawn is being decimated right before their eyes.
To help identify the worms, check out this video from GardenLine listener Julie Black.
Maybe you aren’t detecting the worms just yet, but if you’re seeing any moths hovering over your lawn, they’re likely a signal that army worms are on their way. Or, possibly another infestation of sod webworms. Wither way, if you follow the control methods above, you’ll get control.
And if you simply don’t have the time or inclination to do this, but want someone to come out and spray for you, call my buddy Scott McGrath at McGrath Pest Control (281-469-8240) – he knows my rules!