We have seen a large population of Fall Armyworms (caterpillars) show up on a limited number of Virginia lawns over the last few days. Offshore winds from the south have blown adult moths into our area this summer. These moths laid eggs which have now hatched into caterpillars. These caterpillars are not a common pest problem in Central Virginia, but can cause significant damage to a lawn overnight.
Fall Armyworms are approximately 1-1½ inches long, depending on instar, and can vary in color from a green to mottled brown, to almost black. They have a wide black strip running down each lateral side of their body. Their name comes from the way they feed. They march in groups leaving brown turf in their path, and damage is sometimes seen as a pronounced line between affected and unaffected areas. Most often you will only notice Armyworms once the damage is present.
Virginia Green can help control further destruction by spraying an insecticide application on lawns. Warm season lawns will usually bounce back from Army Worm damage, but with fescue lawns, aeration and seeding is needed for recovery. You will also see an influx of weeds in these areas due to zero competition, and a late fall weed control application will be needed.
If you see any evidence of Armyworms, please call our office at 804.285.6200 to schedule an application. This application is not part of your normal lawn care program and there is an additional charge for this service.