Fall Armyworm Alert in Texas Lawns
Fall in Texas is a time to enjoy leaves changing color, pumpkin carving, and preparing for long-awaited sweater weather. However, this time of year also poses the threat of various lawn problems. Right now, we are on high alert for armyworm outbreaks spotted on lawns in our areas of College Station, Bryan, and NW Houston. Fall armyworms are notorious for their insatiable appetite for turfgrasses like bermudagrass, fescue, ryegrass, or bluegrass. They have a quick life cycle and eggs hatch in large numbers, making them a big concern for Texas homeowners with Bermuda lawns.
What do Armyworms Look Like?
Armyworm caterpillars are the larvae stage of certain moth species. They range in color from brown to green, or gray with varying stripes on their bodies. Larvae can also be spotted by the inverted Y-shape on their heads. There are different types of armyworms, but the fall armyworm targets turfgrasses and other host plants. The adult stage of the armyworm life cycle is the armyworm moth. Adult moths have a wingspan of about 1 and a half inches and are normally gray with white wings. Females lay eggs in areas in or near turfgrasses and foliage, which is why these marching caterpillars have such a notable presence in Texas lawns.
Signs of Armyworms Marching Through Your Texas Lawn
These pests earned their name due to their marching behavior. Armyworms feed in large numbers, marching through lawns, munching on grass blades, resembling an army on the move. Infestations in Bermuda grass can cause severe damage to your lawn in a matter of days. Tips of the grass blades may look chewed or frayed from armyworm larvae feeding on the plant cells. They sometimes eat only the top layer of the grass blade, leaving a skeletal, window pane effect. Lawn damage will be apparent in brown patches that may also resemble drought stress or lawn scalping, as they eat away at the green foliage. You’re more likely to spot armyworms in the morning or during the day, and it may seem like the lawn is moving in a wave-like pattern due to the number of armyworms migrating through the lawn. These pests work fast, and they work hard. Spotting signs of armyworms fast is crucial to saving your grass.
How to Get Rid of Armyworms in Texas
There are a few ways to get rid of armyworms in your lawn. You may try relying on beneficial insects that are natural enemies to eat armyworm eggs before they can hatch. However, that won’t always be a quick or surefire solution. While there are some DIY home remedy methods for armyworm pest control, it may be worth calling a professional lawn care provider for an insecticide application. There are also store-bought products available to treat active armyworm outbreaks. When applying your own insecticide, make sure to always follow the product label for specific guidelines. Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension has additional helpful information on pest control for armyworm infestations in Texas lawns.
Will my Lawn Come Back After Armyworm Damage?
Homeowners often ask if the lawn is a lost cause after dealing with armyworm damage. It depends on the severity of the damage, how quickly you act on it, and the type of grass you have. In most cases, especially for healthy and established bermudagrass, the lawn will recover. Bermuda is a spreading grass, with aggressive growth habits that help with recovery from disease and insect damage. Newly established cool-season grasses, like ryegrass or fescue, which are less common in Texas, will struggle more from armyworm feeding and may be killed.
Professional Armyworm Control in College Station, Bryan, and NW Houston
Depending on where you live in Texas, homeowners should be on the lookout for armyworm activity throughout the year, but especially in early fall. Here in College Station, Bryan, and NW Houston, the team at Aggieland Green has already noticed a fall armyworm outbreak. We offer both a preventative treatment as well as a treatment to help mitigate armyworm damage that may already be occurring. We know how to spot damaging lawn insects, diseases, or other common lawn problems. Since 2008, we’ve provided weed control and fertilization services, tree and shrub care, lawn pest control, and armyworm protection for Texas homeowners. If you’re looking for professional and reliable lawn care in Texas, contact us today.