Fall Armyworms are Here & Doing Damage, Fast!
What are they: Armyworms are the larval stage of a fall armyworm moth. The term "armyworm" is due to the large-scale invasive behavior of the larval stage.
Why are they here now: Armyworms do not normally migrate this far north and are typically only an issue in southern Indiana and states to the south. In fact, they are having record amounts of armyworms south of us, more than they have seen in decades. One of the theories is their northerly movement may have been increased due to an increased amount of weather systems that came from the south, such as hurricanes. This enables the adult moth to travel in the air movement that is heading north.
More Info: Armyworms will feed on a variety of turf, crops, and plants. They feed on all of our native grass varieties, some woody shrubs, and low-growing herbaceous flowers/growth. Some of these plants can be what might attract them to a particular area.
Habits: They will tend to lay their eggs in an area they feel is favorable. Such as areas near some of the plants listed above, posts, signs, various structures, and nearly any vegetation.
One moth can lay as many as 1,000 eggs which hatch within 2-10 days.
In large populations, fall armyworms can consume all the foliar tissue available and crawl in "armies" to nearby turf stands. Since armyworms cross the turf surface as a group, they create a noticeable line between damaged and undamaged turfgrass and can wreak havoc on a lawn in a short amount of time.
What to do now: If you suspect you may have armyworm activity or damage, let us know and we will get out as soon as possible to inspect and/or apply a fast-acting insecticide.
Will it recover?: That is hard to know for sure. Since armyworms only feed on the grass blades and not the crown or root system, technically the turf should be able to regrow new blades and recover in time. However, it is quite possible for the damage to be so catastrophic that there may be little recovery, especially for young and less durable stands.
Monitoring and aiding in the recovery process: Watering and keeping the lawn fed is the most important. Don't go crazy with the water, not more than you would normally water 2-3 days a week for 30-40 min per area (adjusting for rainfall) Within 2-3 weeks you should have a general idea of what will recover. Not that it will all be recovered, but a sense of if you will need to do some seeding. You can also reach out to us to assess the progress and give our recommendations.
Damage can go from bad to worse in a matter of days.