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What Are Armyworms?

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Armyworms feed on garden plants at night and can destroy an entire plant in a single evening. When the food supply is gone they simply move en masse to a brand new site… thus the name “Armyworms”.

Description:

The armyworm adult is a sand colored 1-1/2 inch moth. The larva is a 2 inch nearly hairless striped caterpillar that varies in color between green to brown.

Damage:

Armyworms eat the leaves of host plants and they can completely consume small 6-8 inch corn plants. They travel in large numbers and move on to the next garden or field after destroying an existing one. Army worms attack all grass-type crops, especially corn and small grain plants.

What Are Armyworms?

Life-Cycle:

Armyworms generally go through 5 larval stages within 14-21 days. As they grow their ability to consume plant tissue increases. After maturity the worms dig 1 inch deep into the soil and pupate. After 14 days they emerge as adults. The entire life cycle ranges from 24-36 days and in warmer regions such as Florida there can be several generations per year. Adults tend to migrate north as the weather warms and lay their eggs for the next generation (as many as 2,000 at a time).

Control:

Homeowners can spray lawns with pesticides that list armyworms as pest that can be controlled. It is recommended that the liquid form of insecticide be sprayed I the late afternoon or evening. After this, the lawn should not be watered or mowed for 1-3 days to allow it to work. One method to help control armyworms is to rake up fallen leaf debris to eliminate daytime hiding places.

You can encourage hungry birds to visit your garden to help control army worms by installing birdhouses, birdfeeders, and birdbaths. Another method is to attract predatory wasp by planting dill, fennel, and brightly colored flowers nearby.