Fall armyworms fatten up on Georgia lawns

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Fall armyworms are abundant in Georgia this year, and are causing significant damage in some cases.  Pictured above is an outbreak of armyworms feeding on a Bermuda lawn, consuming the fleshy green blades.

Armyworms favor Bermuda and fescue, but will feed on other lawn types as well.  Damage to established, self perpetuating grasses like Bermuda is usually cosmetic, and turf eventually recovers.  However, new lawns and fescue lawns can be permanently damaged.

Appearing late summer, armyworms typically persist for 3-4 weeks before they pupate in the ground, later to emerge as moths.  The larvae stage (caterpillar stage) is the damaging stage, and can be difficult to detect by untrained eye.

I’ve witnessed a swarm of ants wipe out a population, and attacks by wasps as well.  There are other natural predators too.  However, treatment is often required in order to minimize damage.  Keep in mind that other species, including birds, feed on the juicy armyworms, and therefore may be impacted by treatment.  If treatment is decided upon, use low label rate of selected control product as doing so may reduce impact on other species, and is typically sufficient in controlling armyworms.

If your lawn has already been consumed by armyworms, don’t fret too much, as lawns typically recover within 3-4 weeks.