This year, homeowners throughout Northeast Ohio are experiencing unexpected armyworm infestations in their lawns. Armyworms look like harmless caterpillars but can destroy lawns in days by feeding on grass blades. While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause for the uptick in these destructive pests, above-average rains in August and September create ideal conditions for eggs to survive while storms help flying adult armyworm moths escape from natural predators.
What do Armyworms Look Like?
In the larval stage, armyworms are about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, have a distinctive inverted “Y” mark on their dark-colored heads, and have green, yellow, red, or brown stripes down their sides and backs. Adult armyworm moths measure about 1 1/2 inches across. Their front wings are dark gray with light and dark splotches, and they have pale gray-white hind wings.
Signs of an Armyworm Infestation
Small brown patches of grass, rodents, or a large number of birds in your lawn are usually the first indication of an armyworm infestation. Also keep an eye out for jagged grass blades or bare spots where grass has been chewed to the ground. Armyworms eat the green layer of grass blades, giving grass a transparent, windowpane look.
How to Treat Armyworms in Your Lawn
Because we have cool season grasses in Ohio, armyworms can be particularly devastating to your lawn if not identified and treated right away. Armyworms are most active in the early morning or late evening, if you can, time up treatments with active feeding times. To treat your lawn, apply an insecticide as soon as damage or armyworms are present. Insecticides can also be applied as a preventative.
Can My Lawn Recover from Armyworms?
It may be possible for your lawn to recover from an armyworm infestation with proper fertilization, watering, and mowing. For help determining the best armyworm treatment and recovery plan for your lawn, contact the lawn care professionals at LawnMatters.