For the past few weeks, we’ve had sporadic Armyworm problems in the Tulsa area. The Fall Armyworm can be a devastating insect problem during some years, usually in late summer to early fall. Several years ago we had a significant problem in late August, but nothing like the “Great Armyworm invasion” of 2002 I believe it was. During a severe invasion, Armyworms can march in almost overnight, and invade home lawns like an army, munching and chewing a lawn down to the ground. This so far in 2016 though has not been the case in most areas. The damage seems to be spotty at best. However, that can change quickly, so be on the lookout.
On a bermudagrass lawn, Armyworms are not going to kill it. Even if they chew off the blades down to the stem, the turf will recover before winter sets in. It’s like getting a bad haircut….looks bad, but it will grow out! So at this point, unless it’s a severe problem, we’d not recommend treating with an insecticide unless you insist. Fescue turf, however, is a different story. If Armyworms eat fescue down to the ground, which they certainly can, then new grass seedlings that are just coming up from fescue seeding will die. Even mature fescue could die, or be severely stunted, with a high population of Armyworms present. So if a homewoner sees a large number of these small green to brownish worms in their turf, we recommend to treat with an insecticide.
The good news is that they are fairly easy to kill, with many common insecticides. A quick and simple way to do it is to purchase a bottle of insecticide from the box stores and spray them yourself. It’s one of the few lawn care chores that is actually simple to do. More can be learned on our YouTube channel here: How to Control Armyworms Yourself.