Armyworms on the move
Is your lawn turning progressively brown despite recent rainfalls? If so, there is a good chance you have a thriving population of Armyworms. These voracious feeders can annihilate entire lawns overnight and will continue to breed, lay eggs and increase their population at an alarming rate if left unchecked.
Army worms get their name because they move like an army, conquering one lawn after another. They have been known to annihilate entire lawns overnight. Although more common in late autumn through to winter, rainfall and nonseasonal temperatures have produced the perfect breeding conditions for them, and right now they are munching their way through lawns in droves.
The adult moth lays batches of eggs in your garden and on fence lines, usually close to a light source. The eggs hatch about 6 to 20 days later, and the Army worms begin feeding, working their way out across your lawn. In their last ten days as an adult caterpillar, they feed ravenously before tunneling into the soil to pupate. They emerge as an adult moth who continues the cycle by laying more eggs.
HOW TO CHECK FOR ARMYWORMS
The reason most Army worm infestations go unchecked until it is too late is because they feed at night and hibernate during the day, usually under soil at the base of plants. The easiest way to check if you have Army worms is to put a piece of cloth, old carpet, towel or blanket on a patch of lawn at night and then look underneath it the next day. Because the Army worms think it is still night underneath the blanket, they will have come up to feed.
You can identify Army worms by their markings and behaviour. All species of Army worms have three stripes running the length of their body and will curl up into a tight ‘C’ when disturbed.
HOW TO GET RID OF ARMYWORMS
So how do you get rid of Armyworms once they have set up camp in your yard? The best and most environmentally friendly product on the market is eco-neem.
Eco-neem is an organic insecticide formulated from extracts of the neem tree. This clever product works by suppressing the appetite of the grub so they starve to death and restricting growth so they cannot moult successfully. Although it may take a few days for the Army worm to die, lawn damage stops as soon as eco-neem has been ingested.
Eco-neem will also help control caterpillars, curl grubs, grasshoppers (wingless), aphids, mites, citrus leafminer, whitefly, mealybugs and fungus gnats in soil and sooty mold, so it’s a handy product to have around.
One of the best things about using an environmentally friendly, organic product like eco-neem rather than a synthetic chemical product is that it is safe to use around pets, birds, and lizards. So, if you have a few chooks wandering around your yard, or an opportunistic Magpie who wouldn’t mind a meal of Army worms, you can let them feed freely. Perhaps even more importantly, eco-neem won’t harm bees and other insects that are beneficial and integral to the eco-system. (Note- avoid using around ponds and in aquaponics as it can be harmful to fish).
If you’d like some lawn care advice or have a different pest problem, get in touch with the team at Hendra Hardware.