Consider yourself warned: If you live within Mississippi state lines, your yard could be at risk for being devoured in two to three days by a pest smaller than your pinky finger.
That’s exactly what happened to hundreds of homeowners this year in Mississippi. Baton Rouge lawn care companies started receiving an influx of calls reporting that their yards had gone from beautiful to brittle in a matter of days. The culprit? Armyworms. This tropical webworm has periodically appeared in the area. And when they do, they wreak havoc and quickly devastate turfgrass. According to LSU, this year’s outbreak was the worst ever in Mississippi.
In this blog, we’re sharing more about the armyworm and what you can do to save your lawn in the incidence of another outbreak.
The armyworm is the caterpillar life stage of a moth in North America. In the south, they get blown in on storm fronts from the North West. Mississippi has gone several years without an attack, but when they come, the armyworm eats everything in its path. It’s notorious for killing grass and crops, and moving on as an “army” to the next available food source, once it’s supply is exhausted.
A local publication dubbed this year the “armywormageddon.” Rightly so, as Angus Catchot, an entomology professor, said, it is “the biggest armyworm invasion we’ve ever seen in the Mid-South.” Armyworms feed at night on grass and remain concealed during the day. Nonetheless, their nocturnal appetites killed hundreds of residential Mississippi lawns in 2014.
Because the larvae feed at night on grass blades, they’re extremely difficult to detect. If you know there’s an outbreak in your area, look for armyworms under loose soil and fallen leaves during the day.
The presence of chewed leaves could also indicate an infestation. In Mississippi, the most susceptible times for an attack begin in July and August. Outbreaks are timed with rain, temperature changes, and a dip in the jet stream. During this time, inspect your grass closely. An infestation can start in a small area and spread rapidly as the worms mature.
As with most lawn foes, the ideal control is prevention. But the rapid and virtually invisible migration of armyworms makes it extremely challenging for homeowners to do on their own. Worse, the unusually tight timeline from invasion to total turf devastation makes preparation all the more important. And while a dead turf typically will recover, weather permitting, we all know that Mississippi heat could stall that process. Not to mention, who wants a brown lawn in the summer?
Having a professional team on your side to detect and eliminate infestations like these is invaluable in Mississippi. TruGreen’s technicians continuously have an ear to the ground on local risks, and we check grass accordingly to ensure every customer’s lawn is protected. This summer and fall, we integrated armyworm inspections into our home visits and provided educational information to homeowners who wanted to inspect independently. Using products only available to professionals, we safely achieved quick knockdown and saved lawns from these pervasive worms. Interested in learning more about this year’s attack or how a professional team can help you avoid such devastation? Give us a call.Request your free quote today!