Armyworms: Identifying, Treating, and Recovering

By TruGreen September 16, 2021
 armyworm on a leaf

Fall armyworms are damaging, lawn-feeding pests that can quickly devour an entire yard if left untreated. While difficult to catch early, it’s important to give your lawn the tools it needs to survive and thrive after infestation occurs. 

However, with these fun, autumnal changes comes the marching and munching of armyworms as they begin their attack on your lawn. Unfortunately, when armyworms do arrive, they come in quick to turn your turf from a luscious field of green into a brown, barren mess. 

Don’t let your fall festivities get disrupted by these nasty nibblers, here’s what you need to know.

What Are Armyworms?

Armyworms are pests known for damaging and feeding on your lawn. They reproduce at an alarming rate and migrate from one turf to the next, quickly devouring entire lawns.

Armyworms get their name from the uniform munching pattern they create as they power through your lawn. Due to the cooler temperatures, they often move during the dead of night, making them difficult to diagnose. Additionally, adult armyworm moths will lay their eggs directly on healthy, well-irrigated lawns so the young caterpillars can begin chomping as soon as they hatch.

Typically, armyworms appear towards the end of the summer and will run rampant until the winter frosts start to kill them off.

How Armyworms Harm Your Lawn

Fall armyworms can chew up an entire lawn in just a few short days making the timeline for treatment extremely sensitive. The after-effect comes in the form of a patchy looking, barren lawn that’s less than appealing. Fortunately, armyworms are known as “surface feeders” so they won’t harm the roots or crowns of your lawn’s grasses. This means homeowners can help their lawn recover if treated properly.

What To Look For

Armyworms can come and go in a very short period of time. In fact, by the time most people know they’ve reached their property, it’s almost too late to stop them. 

To stay ahead of this brutal buggy brigade, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for. Some signs of infestation include:

  • Nibbled blades of grass with a ragged appearance
  • Skeletonized leaves eaten down to the stem
  • Discolored grass (this will usually appear around the edges of your lawn first)
  • A large number of birds feeding on your lawn
  • Green fecal pellets in the damaged areas

How You Can Recover Your Lawn

While avoiding an armyworm infestation is more ideal, you’ll be relieved to know that the damage isn’t permanent. You can get your lawn back on track with a little help. 

  • Step 1: If fall armyworms are still on your turf, schedule an armyworm treatment to keep them from feeding on your lawn and killing large areas. 
  • Step 2: Regularly watering affected areas can support the regrowth of grass blades.
  • Step 3: Inform TruGreen of the damage so your next lawn care visit can include tailored nutrition to foster growth.
  • Step 4: For cool season turf such as Tall Fescue or Kentucky Bluegrass, you may consider aeration and overseeding to re-establish the lawn, especially if the crown - the portion between the grass blade and root - is damaged or dead.

If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining a healthy lawn or recovering from an armyworm infestation, the experts at TruGreen are always available to help. Our TruGreen specialists will develop a custom lawn care plan that is tailored to your needs. 

For more information about TruGreen’s range of lawn care services, call 866.688.6722 or check out the services we offer

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