The name armyworms come from the way they attack in an army formation, leading to vast devastation. Armyworms exist all year round but they occasionally make their way from one host to another, damaging acres of lawns and plants.
The attack of these tiny insects occurs so quickly that it often doesn’t give much time to the gardeners for counteraction. For all the above reasons, you should be careful of these pesky creatures if you own a garden.
Armyworms are small caterpillars that feed on grasses and plants, causing significant damage to lawns and gardens. They typically attack in large hordes, moving across the landscape like an army, hence their name. While they do exist all year round, armyworms can occasionally migrate between host plants or even move into your garden from nearby areas. This makes them a particularly difficult pest to control. And so, we’re here to tell you everything about armyworms. Starting from who they are and what damages they cause to how they can be identified and treated.
Table of Contents
What are Armyworms?
The first thing that you should know is what armyworms are. After all, you need to identify the potential insects when you come across significant damage. By looking at their anatomy and the type of damage caused, you’ll be able to determine the treatment.
Armyworms are 1.5-2 inch long caterpillars. They have stripes all over their light green, grey, or dull yellow-coloured body. The body of an armyworm is sleek and the head is very small. On the top of the body, you’ll find a dark, wideband.
As stated above, armyworms love to create an army formation and move toward their food source. Once they deplete a food source, they move on to another. They are native to central and eastern North America. They’re also found in some parts of South America.
Since armyworms can’t survive chilly winters, they migrate to areas like Illinois in early spring. Grasses or crops are the places where they lay their eggs, which get ready to hatch within 2-3 weeks. The larvae of armyworms usually live under the soil surface during the day.
In a year, 3 generations of armyworms can grow and live. The first generation typically emerges in April-May, the second in June-July, and the third in August-September.
So… You must be intrigued to learn what harm armyworms do? Here’s the answer.
What Damages do Armyworms Cause?
Being herbivorous, adult armyworms feed on plant nectar whereas the larvae feed on grasses. Adult armyworms usually don’t do any damage to crops. However, armyworm larvae are considered pests for foods such as corn, rice, small grains, and turn grasses.
The grasses and leaves of select plants are damaged by adult armyworm moths. The damage is initially unnoticed until the entire lawn becomes pale and lifeless. You’d believe a steamroller had run over the grass after seeing an armyworm infestation on a lawn.
The grass blades look discolored and completely flat whereas the foliage of the plants also gets destroyed. Within a week or a few days, an entire lawn can be devastated by an army of these tiny creatures.
Brown patches in the grass may be observed in an armyworm-infested region if you look closely. The brown spots appear to have been exposed to drought, chemical tension, or excessive heat, and they resemble burn scars on the lawn. These areas appear for the first few days near the border of the lawn before moving toward its middle.
You can also identify an armyworm’s infestation by seeing the plant leaves. Along the garden parameter, the plant leaves become chewed or torn. At the center, they get cut off from the surface. These are some typical signs of an armyworm’s attack.
The Cause of Armyworms Infestation
The main cause of armyworm infestation is their eating habit. Though these insects exist every year, the population varies depending upon various factors such as climate change. If an area becomes overpopulated with armyworms, it can be the reason for the infestation.
There’s no single reason for the infestation of armyworms. Several theories are there regarding this topic. According to a theory, the spring and summer months are comparatively humid and these provide better living conditions for the insects.
Another theory states that wasps and flies are the main natural predators of armyworms. Since these insects become less active in the spring and summer months, the population of armyworms increases during this time. We believe both theories are correct and interrelated.
How to Prevent Armyworms?
Here comes the most important part of the topic – how to kill armyworms. The best way to get rid of armyworms is to use commercial-grade pesticides in gardens. You can use this product several times a year to make sure armyworms never make their way into your garden.
You shouldn’t mistake armyworms for grubs since they resemble one another. Grub control pesticides will not work against armyworms, and they won’t be harmful to them. When purchasing a commercial-grade pesticide, look for it to be labeled “organic” or “natural.”
Using a natural product over the chemical ones will ensure the safety and health of your family and pets if they spend a lot of time in your garden. It’s also good for the environment and ecosystem. If your garden is already infested with armyworms, you can apply the commercial-grade pesticide to prevent future damage.
How to Treat an Armyworm-Infested Garden
To treat a garden infested by armyworms, you need to aerate and overseed it. You can also consider power seeding it depending upon the severity of the damage. Before taking these steps, make sure you clean your garden well.
You can consult a lawn care professional if the damage is too severe. They’ll inspect your garden and help you with the treatment. If the professional suggests a pesticide, you can insist on choosing a natural or organic product.
Once aeration and the other processes begin, water your garden regularly or as required. Keeping the land cool and moistured will help new grasses grow healthily. Cooler and moistured land is disliked by armyworms and other insects.
Now that you know everything about armyworms, go ahead and save your garden from these pesky creatures. Taking every precaution will surely help you to keep them at bay forever. In case you suspect an armyworm attack, take the required steps immediately.
People Also Ask
What is the best killer for armyworms?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best killer will vary depending on the types of armyworms present. Some popular options include carbaryl, bifenthrin, and spinosad. You can consult a professional pest control company to find out which treatments are most effective in your area.
How do you know if there are armyworms in your yard?
One of the easiest ways to tell if there are armyworms present is by looking for damaged leaves or plants around your yard or garden. Another common sign of an infestation is seeing small moths fluttering around your lawn at night.
What brings on armyworms?
There’s no single answer to this question, as the causes can vary depending on a number of factors. One popular theory is that warmer and wetter spring and summer months provide ideal conditions for armyworms to thrive. Another common cause is a decline in predators like wasps and flies, which can lead to an increased population of armyworms.
Why are they called armyworms?
The name “armyworm” comes from the insects’ habit of moving in large groups or “armies.” These mass migrations can often result in widespread damage to crops and gardens.
How common are armyworms?
The number of years between generations varies depending on the area: two to three years in the northern part of the United States, and four to six years in the southern portion. Because larval populations are frequently enormous, brief bouts of severe plant damage can suddenly appear.
How long do army worms stay?
Armyworms have a lifespan of about three to four weeks. The time from egg to adult can vary depending on the temperature but is typically around two weeks.
Do armyworms bite humans?
No, armyworms do not bite humans. However, they can cause skin irritation if you come into contact with them. If you experience any irritation, wash the area with soap and water. If the irritation persists, consult a doctor.
What kills army worms naturally?
Armyworms can be controlled by introducing certain species of B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) into the environment to control armyworms without affecting other creatures or beneficial insects. Insecticides containing pyrethrins may also help manage the armyworm.