Army worms invade Birmingham lawns


Not to be alarmist, but have you checked your lawn lately? It is summer in the South and that means that this patch of grass is at risk of being invaded by army caterpillars.

Armyworms are a summer and fall plague for lawn lovers, and unfortunately as the summer gets warmer and the plants dry out, it’s that time of year again. According to local news channel WTVM 13, this summer’s rain has killed the bugs that can prevent an armyworm invasion – an insect situation that has created “the perfect environment” for armyworms.

If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid these little pests so far, armyworms are the caterpillar-like larvae of a tiny southern butterfly. The favorite food of army caterpillars is agricultural crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts and sorghum. When these dry out or make their way through them like they’re playing their own version of The hungry caterpillar, the little critters are moving to greener pastures, especially your lawn.

They earned their militaristic name because they are determined, hungry bugs that march across a lawn like an army platoon, eating as they go and leaving devastation in their wake. How is an army of bugs born? Well, according to our grumpy gardener: “Female butterflies will lay up to 2,000 tiny eggs directly on the blades of grass. Those thousands of eggs hatch within days, producing thousands of tiny green caterpillars with tiny black heads and a ravenous appetite. They walk while eating your perfectly manicured lawn (or even your lazy lawn) and grow and change color as they go. “If you see it gobbling up your grass, your lawn is in danger,” our cranky gardener wrote.

If you spot a few scouts or catch the caterpillars while they are still small (half an inch long or less), spray the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) on your lawn can stop their march forward. The spray is completely natural and only kills caterpillars. Unfortunately, this will not work on normal sized bugs. For this problem, the Grumpy Gardener recommends choosing a garden insecticide designed to demolish armyworms and spray the lawn – or learn to love not having a lawn at all.

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