Army worms are on the march

Posted on March 8, 2020 by Ashlee Hall

With the weather being a little wet and warm recently, army worms have been marching across lawns in South-East Queensland and causing havoc – but how do you know you have them, and how do you treat the attack?

Picture Courtesy of Lawn Solutions Australia

To try and help you out a little, keep reading about some tips and tricks to get your lawn back looking its best and free of army worm activity – and give Rosemount Turf a call on (07) 5448 6398 if you need some extra assistance!

What are army worms?

Army worms, sometimes called ‘lawn grubs’ are a common caterpillar pest that get into lawns and crops. They feed on leaves or roots, depending on the conditions.

What are the signs that you have army warms in your lawn?

The following are symptoms that you have army worms in your turf:

  • Your lawn can no longer take in the moisture and nutrients it needs.
  • Your grass is dry and straw-like, similar to drought conditions.
  • Brown patches that gradually spread out.
  • More birds are taking an interest in your lawn – they love army worms as a tasty snack!
  • Spongey feel to your lawn.
  • At its worst, your lawn will actually ‘peel off’ the soil as all roots have been eaten

When peeling back your lawn, you will likely see army worm larvae that are feeding on any lawn roots that are left.

You have to be particularly vigilant when the weather starts getting warmer, usually between around September to March, as this is when army worms are more likely to make an appearance. The lawn types that are most likely to be hit are Kikuyu and Couch, with Buffalo being less likely.

How do you figure out if you have an army worm problem?

There are two tests you can do to see if you have army worms:

  1. First Test: Lay a wet towel or piece of carpet on a section of your lawn overnight. In the morning, lift it up and see if anything has come to the surface underneath it. A hessian bag works well too.
  2. Second Test: Mix up a bucket of soapy water and pour it over the edge of one of the affected areas of lawn. Wait around 10 mins or so and, if you have army worms, they should start popping to the surface.

How do you treat army worms?

When it comes to treatment, starting ASAP is crucial due to the sheer mass of eggs that army worms lay and the rate at which they feed. Lawn providers like Rosemount Turf can help with what insecticide to use and advice in utilising it, as each choice has different application requirements.

Because lawn grubs bury themselves in the soil during the day and come out to feed at night the most effective time to apply insecticides is as late in the day as possible while the adults are active.

If you are completing army worm treatment during dry weather, ensure you water any insecticides into your lawn or, if it is raining, apply during the rainfall. Always remember to do another treatment two weeks following the first, as army worm eggs can take 2-5 weeks to hatch. A secondary treatment will ensure any missed worms or eggs are removed.

How do you prevent army worms?

Army worm attacks are tricky, as they can happen at various times of year and more than once in any given time. There are various products that may assist, so we recommend speaking to a turf specialist and they can assist further.

If you’d like any further assistance, give Rosemount Turf a call on (07) 5448 6398 and we would be happy to assist.

Resources:

Lawn Solutions Australia
How to Treat Grub Lawn Attacks

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