Question of the Week: August 23, 2018
“Why is my bermuda turf suddenly turning brown? I find caterpillars on the walk. Are they responsible?”
Because of the photo above and several other questions I’d been asked over a 4-hour period, I sneaked in a warning that armyworms might be on the prowl just before e-gardens went out last Thursday evening. Since then I haven’t had as many questions as I thought I might, but let me be preemptive on this one – because it’s their time. Let’s address how you can watch for armyworms and what you might want to do if you do see them in your turf.
Some of the facts…
• Armyworms are an agricultural pest in that they will attack farm fields as well as home lawns.
• They feed on bermuda but not St. Augustine.
• The adult is a harmless-looking moth that you might not even have noticed.
• The chubby larvae are about an inch long, greenish or tan with brown stripes running the lengths of their bodies.
• They feed on grass blades, but they leave runners and roots unaffected.
• Infested areas quickly turn brown as if dead.
• However, grass rebounds fairly quickly (within a couple of weeks) and greens up again long before winter.
• In the meantime you may see hundreds of birds feeding in your lawn – dining on a main course of armyworms.
• See this Texas A&M publication for more information and for suggestions of controls.