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Pest Spotlight: The Armyworm

Florida is home to many species of lawn-destroying pests. Apex, the Tampa lawn care experts, frequently encounter one particularly concerning species: the armyworm. Here’s what you need to know.

How to Identify Armyworms

The first generation of armyworms appears in April, and there can be three generations per year. The larval stage is responsible for the damage to lawns. Larvae molt multiple times as they grow, and each instar looks slightly different. The youngest larvae have greenish bodies and black heads, while the older larvae have brownish bodies with white lines and reddish-brown heads.

The larvae form cocoons in the soil and emerge from their cocoons as fully-grown adults. Adult armyworms are gray and brown moths. These moths are active at night and lay their eggs on foliage. Egg masses can contain 100 to 200 eggs, and they may look moldy or furry.

Armyworm Damage

Armyworm larvae feed on foliage such as blades of grass. The young larvae start by eating tissue from just one side of the leaves, but as they age, they start to eat right through the leaves. These older larvae can cause extensive damage to plants.

When armyworms are feeding on your lawn, you might notice patches of chewed grass. Another clue is an increased number of birds on your lawn; birds eat armyworms but can’t eat fast enough to keep these pests under control.

Control Methods for Armyworms

If you’re concerned about armyworms, it’s important to seek advice from a lawn care professional. Other species of larvae can damage lawns, and identifying the pest that’s responsible is essential for effective treatment. A professional can let you know if armyworms are present and propose an effective treatment strategy.

To control armyworms, lawn care professionals apply an appropriate mix of chemicals. This could include both granular and liquid insecticides. Since armyworms are resistant to some insecticides, products must be selected carefully, and these commercial-grade chemicals may need to be applied throughout the year to prevent future armyworm problems.

Once the armyworms have been controlled, the lawn may need to be repaired. If any patches of your lawn are discolored and dead, the areas may need to be aerated and overseeded.

Armyworms can cause serious damage to Florida lawns. If you’re worried that these pests are feasting on your lawn, contact the Tampa lawn care experts at Apex right away.

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