Armyworms: How to Spot, Stop, and Prevent These Pests in the Garden
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Armyworms: How to Prevent These Pests
Armyworms are destructive pests that eat grass, vegetables, and ornamentals and quickly destroy entire plants. These parasites turn into moths within a few weeks, but it is the larval stage that causes the most damage.
Healthy garden conditions generally keep armyworm populations low. Other times they get out of hand and gardeners to need to know how to get rid of these pests before they destroy a garden.
Our guide will show you how.
What are armyworms?
Armyworms are not worms. They are the caterpillars of several species of moths. Armyworms destroy plants and vegetables in the garden by devouring them.
Armyworms are most active at night and hide in plants, as well as under grass and debris during the day.
These pests are the most damaging in their larval stage and will devour your lawn and many different plants in your yard. They got their name because these pests move together in large masses like small armies and brutally attack plants.
Armyworms are particularly fond of wet conditions. If your area has cold, wet weather for several weeks in the spring, it increases the likelihood that the worms will multiply and spread.
At the same time, these conditions reduce the activity of predators, which normally feed on earthworms, and allow the population to spread without natural control measures.
What do armyworms eat?
Armyworms are occasional animals, so they will eat whatever they find. Do you prefer willows and grasses like:
For most home gardeners, these plants aren't normally grown, but that doesn't mean you're safe. Armyworms also like all kinds of vegetables, such as:
- Sweet Potatoes
How to Identify Army Worms
The most difficult time to identify armyworms is when they are newborn caterpillars. The signs are difficult to distinguish and distinguish from other species of larvae.
With age, the larvae develop distinct stripes that run throughout the body.
There are several types of armyworm caterpillars, each with different markings. Autumn worms (Spodoptera frugiperda) are brown with yellow stripes. Beet worms (Spodoptera exigua) are green with light stripes.
Basically, look for insects with a series of green, yellow, red, or brown stripes on the sides and back.
As they age and develop into moths, adult butterflies are gray and mottled, usually with a 1/5 inch wingspan and small white dots in the center of each forewing.
The Armyworm Lifecycle
The biggest problem with these parasites is that they are fertile and multiply rapidly under the right conditions. They lay large bunches of eggs and tend the gardens in no time.
It begins when the butterfly lays a group of eggs on the leaves of an older plant or seedling. Female butterflies lay up to 2000 eggs, which is a ton of eggs!
The eggs hatch in 5-10 days and the tiny caterpillars emerge and begin feeding for weeks. This larval stage is harmful; They eat all night and destroy plants. After a few weeks, the larvae pupate and develop within 10 days.
The number of generations that will be produced in your garden depends on where you are in the United States. Northern climates generally have two to three generations, but gardeners in the southern states can have up to six generations.
It is not uncommon for more than three generations of armyworms to be produced in one season. Even if you don't see it, another generation is still preparing to leave Earth to replace the one that fell apart a few days ago!
It should be noted that the eggs and pupae hibernate in areas with mild winters. They are hidden in the ground. In hot climates, armyworms tend to be active year-round. They do not hibernate in cold climates but instead move north when the temperature rises.
Damage Caused by Armyworms
The first sign of an armyworm is usually small pieces of brown grass in the lawn. You can chew the grass or leave it in pieces and in some areas the grass can be eaten on the ground. If you have bald spots on your lawn, armyworms may be the cause.
One of the easiest ways to distinguish armyworms from other pests is to examine the damage done to your garden.
In spring, the larvae stay close to the ground and feed on grass and other low-growing plants. As they age and the season progresses, armyworms feed on leaves and fruit.
One of the characteristic signs of armyworm damage is the leaf skeleton, especially on corn, lettuce, bean, and lettuce leaves.
Fall Armyworm also makes shallow holes and cuts in fruit. They prefer corn when it is available and they bury and feed on ears of corn. Sometimes when you peel an ear of corn, you can find various worms in the kernels.
You can also see the stool that these parasites have left behind.
The most common damage caused by military worms, regardless of the crop they infect, is ingestion and destruction of the foliage.
How to Prevent Armyworms
Prevention is always the best way to control parasites. It's easier to stop pests from dominating your garden than it is to get rid of them.
Although armyworms are far from being one of the worst pests in your garden, you still need corrective measures.
1. Keep the Lawn Mowed
Good spring grass control will greatly reduce the risk of an armyworm outbreak. The moths search for tall grass to lay their eggs. So if the grass is short they are unlikely to stop spawning there.
2. Keep Your Grass Healthy
Healthy grass fights parasites more easily than weeds. Use smart lawn care methods and keep your lawn well-watered
3. Clean Out Your Garden
Don't let the larvae hide. Clean your yard regularly and remove dirt and other items that they can hide under during the day.
How to get rid of Armyworms
While fighting armyworms is frustrating, the good news is that if you keep your garden healthy, sprouts can be less than other pests.
Climatic conditions and a large number of natural enemies make it easier to keep the population of this pest at manageable levels, provided you have the right conditions.
What if the conditions are not good? Here are some tips on how to try to get rid of armyworms in your backyard.
1. Encourage Natural Beneficial Enemies
One of the most effective ways to care for armyworms in your backyard is to buy and release or promote beneficial insects. Ground beetles, parasitic wasps, and parasitic flies are three great options for limiting an outbreak.
Another idea is to encourage more birds to visit your garden. Birds love to eat armyworms near their plants.
While nature can generally control Legionnaires, it doesn't always work and gardeners need to know practical methods to get rid of Legionnaires. Be sure to encourage natural predators and birds; This is important to keep the population in check.
2. Treat with Bacillus thuringiensis
Bt products are available in most nurseries and fight small populations of armyworm larvae without harming beneficial insects in your garden.
The downside to using this natural pesticide is that it won't last long in your garden or lawn. It only takes 1 to 2 days before a new application is needed.
3. Consider Chemical Insecticides
Once you are familiar with the chemicals used to control armyworms, look for an effective insecticide against armyworms. The benefit of using these products is that they last longer and are effective against larger populations of military worms.
When shopping for chemical insecticides, look for options like bifenthrin, carbaryl, sphenolvalate, and other powerful chemicals.
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