How to Get Rid of Fall Armyworms and Save Your Lawn

Is your once lush green lawn being taken over by an army of voracious caterpillars? If so, you might be dealing with a fall armyworm infestation. These pests, the larvae of a small, brownish-gray moth, can wreak havoc on your lawn by devouring grass blades and leaving behind unsightly brown patches. But fear not! This comprehensive article will walk you through spotting fall armyworms, preventing their invasion, and effectively eliminating them if they’ve already infested your lawn. It’s time to take back your turf!

What are Fall Armyworms?

Fall armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda) are notorious pests that plague various crops, including corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, and sorghum. Spotting armyworms early is crucial for effective treatment. Female moths lay up to 2,000 tiny eggs directly on grass blades, which hatch a few days later. Initially, the newly hatched caterpillars are green with a black head. As they continue to feed on the grass over a period of about 14 days, they transform, turning brown with white lines on the side and a reddish-brown head. These caterpillars can reach lengths of over an inch, and their presence can be problematic for your lawn.

Where Do Armyworms Invade?

Fall armyworms are prevalent in many states east of the Mississippi River and are particularly problematic in the Southeast. In regions where autumn arrives earlier, armyworms may be limited to one or two generations per year. However, in the South, they can have up to twice as many generations, increasing the chance of infestation. Therefore, if you reside in the Southeast, protecting your lawn from these destructive invaders is crucial.

Signs and symptoms of Fall Army Worm infestation

Detecting Fall Army Worm infestations is crucial for effective control. Here are some key signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • Characteristic feeding patterns: Fall Army Worm larvae leave behind characteristic feeding patterns, including chewed leaves with irregular holes and windowpane-like damage.
  • Presence of eggs: Check under the leaves for groups of small, light yellow eggs. These eggs are usually covered with a whitish, cottony substance.
  • Larval presence: Spotting the larvae themselves is an obvious sign of infestation. The FAW larvae are smooth-skinned caterpillars with distinct patterns of alternating light and dark stripes.

Being vigilant and regularly inspecting crops for these signs can help farmers detect Fall Army Worm infestations early and take proactive measures.

Which Effective Prevention Strategies Should You Consider?

Being proactive in preventing fall armyworm infestations can save you time, effort, and potential damage to your lawn. Here are some effective prevention strategies to consider:

  • Regular Lawn Maintenance: Maintaining a healthy lawn through regular practices like mowing, watering, and fertilizing can reduce the susceptibility to armyworm infestations.
  • Promote Natural Predators: Encourage the presence of natural predators, such as wasps, spiders, birds, and beneficial insects, that feed on armyworms. Planting native flowering plants can attract these beneficial creatures to your yard.
  • Remove Excess Vegetation: Armyworms are attracted to overgrown areas with tall grasses and weeds. Keep your lawn well-manicured and remove any excess vegetation that could provide hiding places for these pests.
  • Monitor Your Lawn: Regularly inspect your lawn for signs of armyworm activity. Detecting the issue early can assist you in addressing it promptly before it becomes unmanageable.

Treating Fall Armyworm Infestations

If fall armyworms have already invaded your lawn, swift action is necessary to minimize the damage and restore your turf to its former glory. Here are some treatment methods to consider:

  1. Natural Treatment with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt): If you catch the armyworms while they are still small (around a half-inch long), a natural and environmentally friendly option is to spray your grass with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium that specifically targets caterpillars. However, note that this treatment is not effective on mature caterpillars.
  2. Garden Insecticides: A garden insecticide specifically labeled for armyworms is recommended for larger or mature armyworms. These insecticides can be applied using a hose-end sprayer, making it convenient and efficient to cover your entire lawn.
  3. Professional Pest Control: If the infestation is severe or do-it-yourself methods are ineffective, it may be necessary to enlist the help of professional pest control services. They can provide targeted treatments and ongoing monitoring to eradicate armyworms completely.

Lawn Care Tips to Help Prevent Fall Armyworms

In addition to general lawn maintenance, there are specific care practices that can help prevent fall armyworm infestations. One effective method is overseeding your lawn with resistant grass varieties. Certain grass types, such as Bermuda grass or zoysia grass, are less susceptible to fall armyworms. By incorporating these varieties into your lawn, you can reduce the risk of infestations.

Proper irrigation is also essential in preventing fall armyworms. These pests thrive in dry conditions, so watering your lawn deeply and infrequently is crucial. This promotes deep root growth and discourages armyworms from feeding on your grass. Additionally, avoid over-fertilizing your lawn, as excessive nitrogen can attract these pests.


Are there any natural predators of the Fall Army Worm?

Yes, natural predators such as birds, spiders, and parasitic wasps can help control the Fall Army Worm population.

Can the Fall Army Worm infest crops other than maize?

The Fall Army Worm can infest other cereal crops like rice, wheat, and sorghum.

How can I detect Fall Army Worm infestations early?

Regularly inspect crops for signs of infestation, including characteristic feeding patterns, the presence of eggs, and the presence of larvae.

What are some organic control measures for Fall Army Worm?

Organic control measures include biological control using natural enemies, botanical insecticides, and biopesticides.

What is the recommended approach for Fall Army Worm control?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the recommended approach, combining cultural practices, biological control, monitoring and thresholds, and chemical control if necessary.

Conclusion: Taking Action to Save Your Lawn from Fall Armyworms

Fall armyworms can quickly turn your lush, green lawn into a barren wasteland if left unchecked. However, promptly identifying these pests and implementing effective control measures can protect your lawn from their destructive feeding habits. Whether you opt for natural methods or chemical control options, taking action and preventing further damage is crucial. By practicing proper lawn care and seeking professional help if necessary, you can reclaim your lawn from fall armyworms and enjoy a beautiful, healthy outdoor space.

Reclaim your lawn from fall armyworms and ensure a lush, healthy outdoor space with EcoLawn Florida. Our professional pest control services offer effective, eco-friendly solutions. Contact us today for a consultation and take the first step towards saving your lawn. Visit ECO Lawn Florida now!