How To Tell If That Damaged Grass Is Armyworm Activity

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Your lawn looked green and pristine yesterday, but you woke up this morning to discover major damaged areas! Does this sound familiar? If your lawn has experienced a sudden, drastic decline in health and appearance, it could be fall armyworms. These pests are one of the absolute worst bugs you can have on your lawn, and the damage they cause is mind-blowing. Learn how to identify armyworm damage and what you can do to help your lawn recover.

How To Recognize Armyworm Damage

What Do Armyworms Look Like

Like an invasion, armyworms go marching across golf courses, athletic fields, cornfields, commercial properties, and residential lawns. They are found in every state, and September is when they typically hit their peak activity. Adult armyworms are dark gray in color, with multicolored wings covered in light and dark splotches. Another key identifier of armyworms is the inverted capital “Y” shape on their heads. Interestingly, it’s not the adults but their babies that ruin the lawns. These larvae look like greenish-brown caterpillars with long, white, orange, and dark brown stripes along the length of their abdomen on each side. And by the way, armyworms will certainly lay their eggs in your turfgrass, but they can also make do with fences, walls, storage containers, or sheds. Females can lay hundreds of eggs in clusters that appear off-white in color. The incubation period for these eggs can be anywhere from 5 to 10 days. So just because you haven’t seen them on your lawn yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t lurking nearby waiting to hatch.

Signs Of Armyworm Damage

Armyworms are sneaky. After hatching, they will weave web-like nests in your grass and utilize these tunnels to hide from predators during the day. At night, when birds and other animals have gone to bed, they’ll emerge and begin chowing down on your turfgrass. As they mature, they will travel farther and farther up the blades of grass. Once they’ve reached adulthood, they’ll begin hunting for other food sources. And they aren’t picky eaters. Catching armyworms red-handed is difficult since they are active at night. You might need to look over the lawn after dark with a good flashlight and get up close and personal with the grass to spot one. Aside from seeing the caterpillars directly, you may also notice the following signs that inside armyworms present:

Brown Patches

Have you tried watering and fertilizer to no avail? It could actually be armyworms, especially if the damage appeared in a short amount of time.

Ragged Blades Of Grass

Does your lawn look like it’s been chewed? Or cut with a dull mower blade? It could be armyworms.

Bare Spots

It’s not uncommon for armyworms to leave patches of your lawn totally stripped as if there was a plague of locusts. Rest assured, this is not something out of the Old Testament – just armyworms.

Holes Or Dug Up Areas

Animals like skunks, birds, raccoons, and possums will tear up your turf to get to the armyworms. To you, armyworms are a pest, but to many animals, they are a delicacy.

Why You Should Call Pest Control For Armyworms

Tackling armyworms at home can be challenging and messy. You could try several strategies, but relying on professional pest control is the only surefire way to eradicate them.


Some homeowners have tried using a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, also referred to as BT. It’s applied as a liquid or powder and can help with not only armyworms but other garden pests as well. However, it will not work on adult females, which means they can keep on laying eggs.


You could try ordering live ladybugs, lacewings, or parasitic wasps. All three of them are perfectly harmless to humans and will help eat armyworms. The drawback to this method is that this can take a while to be effective. By the time the new bugs get established, the armyworms could already have done extensive damage. And there’s no guarantee other critters in the yard will not eat the bugs you deploy.

Pest Control Spray

This is truly the best option if you want to see results. Armyworms are too often mistake for things like lack of moisture, fertilizer, or grubs. You could waste time and money attempting to fix the problem by wrongfully believing it’s something else. But by hiring a pest control company, there’s no guesswork. Your pest control technician has the training and expertise to correctly diagnose the problem and remedy it in no time.

Get Professional Pest Control In Metro Atlanta

Win the war on armyworms with help from Papa Turf! Our exterior pest control program targets many common lawn-damaging pests like armyworms. We’ll wipe out this destructive bug and help you restore any damage to your turf. If you think it’s time to send in the cavalry, call 770-389-0884 or leave us a message online. Don’t forget to check out our blog page for more articles on caring for your lawn and trees and how to keep other pests out of your yard. You can also connect with us on Facebook, where we share the latest deals, service offerings and post photos of our work!