Don't let your beautiful

new lawn go to the bugs.

Below are tips to protect your lawn from pest damage.
Any turf setting that contains new, lush turf growth and is receiving a lot of water and fertilizer is a prime target for an infestation. In recent years, the most common report of fall armyworm has been associated with areas of new sod. The common scenario is that the sod is laid on site, watered and after a couple of weeks it begins to turn brown. More water and fertilizer is applied, but the turfgrass continues to decline. Finally someone checks for armyworms and either finds large caterpillars or nothing at all. In many situations, the caterpillars will not be found because they are pupae in the soil.

– NC State University TurfFiles
Army worms love to eat your brand new sod but they don’t originate there. Here are some facts about army worms:
  • Armyworms are not indigenous to our area, and cannot overwinter here. They are the larval form of a subtropical moth. They migrate here from the gulf coast and tropics.
  • They are not a problem here every year. Some years they don't make it here, but when they do they typically arrive in July and can thrive until the first frost.
  • They get their name from their behavior of moving across lawns in an army-like fashion.
  • They are particularly attracted to new sod, and new sod is very vulnerable to damage.
  • Armyworm moths lay their egg sacs on homes, fencing, bushes, etc., but rarely do they lay eggs in grass.
  • Armyworms do all their damage to lawns when they are in the caterpillar stage.
  • There is no "over the counter" preventative treatment available to homeowners for armyworms in the egg or moth stages. However, insecticide is available to homeowners for treating when they're in the caterpillar stage.
  • When you see a sign of them, treat your lawn immediately because they can do terrible damage within 24 hours.
How do I know if I have armyworms?
  • If your sod has become discolored or looks like it has been exposed to frost. The damage often begins on the edge of the lawn and moves across.
  • A large number of birds in a turf area may be a sign of armyworms since they are an excellent food source for birds.
  • Test for armyworms with a soap flush:
Soap Flush Test for Pests

A soap flush is a mixture of 3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of water. We find that lemon-scented dish soap is the most effective. Pour the mixture into a 3' x 3' area and watch the action. The soap will agitate the caterpillars' skin and they will come to the surface - you can see them and then you will know to treat for them immediately.

This test also works for many other destructive insects.
Treating for armyworms
  • There are an abundance of insecticides available on the market that treat armyworm infestations.
  • Armyworms are typically most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon, insecticide application may be more effective at that time.
  • Treat more than once - Just because the armyworms have gone to pupae stage does not mean they are gone. They will mature, lay eggs, hatch, and infest your yard again. Be vigilant and treat multiple times according to the insecticide instructions in order to break the armyworm life cycle.
  • If you live in an area prone to infestation, such as Gwinnett, stock up on insecticide and be prepared to defend your yard with treatment when necessary. 
  • Make sure to read all insecticide instructions carefully and apply at the application rate recommended on the product label for the pest you are targeting.
More Info on Armyworms from NC State TurfFiles

-Scott McElyea and the folks at Super-Sod of Gwinnett

Tel: 770-277-7745

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