It appears that we are well into our second generation of fall armyworms.
Typically, one generation of fall armyworms can develop in about 18-28 days – depending on weather conditions. The first generation of the 2017 season showed up in north east Oklahoma in late July/early August – leaving plenty of time for multiple generations to affect lawns.
Our recommendation is to continue applying a liquid insecticide to help control populations, especially if you have fescue. While the effected areas on bermudagrass can be significant and unsightly, generally bermudagrass will recover. Fescue, however, will not fare well from the damage of a severe infestation this late in the season.
Multiple insecticides are available at your local home improvement stores to control the fall armyworm, just be sure to read the label and follow the instructions for best results. We are also more than happy to help provide our professionally applied insecticide application. Just give us a call or request the service online here.
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We have been seeing them again in Tulsa and surrounding areas.
In 2014 with the last big invasion, you may remember actually seeing the lawns move as thousands of caterpillars moved across the turf eating grass blades down to the dirt. You could actually hear the chomping of the insects eating the turf. The key to controlling Armyworms is to treat them with an insecticide when they are smaller and before they do damage to the turf.
The first sign is a grey moth. She will fly in and lay nearly 2,000 eggs just for you. Tiny larvae hatch out and hide down in the thatch. You will need to get on your hands and knees to see them. Within a week or so, they will be mature and much larger. Mostly green with brown racing stripes on the sides of them. They have many generations from now until the first frost.
These devastating pests are rightly named, since they can destroy turf seemingly overnight, as they typically invade the lawns like an army and appear to be marching over the turf.
Fescue is the main concern since they eat it all the way down to the soil, especially when it is hot, it has little chance of survival. We never recommend scalping Fescue, and an Armyworm invasion is like a super scalp job. If your Fescue dies, then you will be re-seeding 100% of your lawn this fall. That will be much more expensive than an insecticide treatment. Armyworms also love to eat Bermudagrass, and can take it down to the stems and dirt too. However, Bermuda is pretty tough, and it will recover in most cases with good irrigation and fertilization. Your lawn will look awful for several weeks before it recovers. If you have a Zoysiagrass lawn, you’re in luck, as typically they won’t touch it.
Scout your lawn, if you see them, we recommend contacting us promptly. If we experience a major invasion of Armyworms in Tulsa, most lawn care companies will be hard pressed to treat everyone who calls that day.