The armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) emerges every fall in the southeastern part of the United States, where it wreaks havoc on grass and crops. Armyworms will eventually grow to become moths that have a lifespan of two to three weeks. However, in the armyworm stage of growth, they resemble caterpillars and feast on grass, alfalfa, cotton, and many vegetable crops.
The adult armyworm is a gray moth with a wingspan that is no more than 2-3 inches. The female moths lay their eggs in clusters on the grass, in tree trunks, and along the rails of wooden fences. The masses hatch within two to four days, and armyworm caterpillars appear. The armyworms then begin to feed, further developing and evolving in appearance.
Temperatures need to be above 55 degrees for the armyworm to adequately develop. With the weather cooperating, the armyworm feeds for fourteen days before burrowing into the ground for the next phase of evolution, after which they will emerge again as a moth.
The armyworm caterpillars usually emerge in August and continue to make their presence known through October. First reports of their emergence usually come from Alabama, where they seem to have the strongest presence throughout their season of development.
You will know they have invaded your lawn when you start to see brown patches or even bare spots on your lawn. If armyworms have infested your crops, you might notice rows of holes on the leaves.
Armyworms move in groups and leave destruction in their wake. Because of this, they can be hard to control. However, they are most active in the early mornings and late evenings. As such, treatments should be applied during these times for maximum results.
If you need your own army to battle against these pests, contact your local Mosquito Squad today!