Armyworms are light brown to dark tan, mostly hairless Caterpillars (Moth larva) with yellow or brown stripes along the length of their 1½ to 2-inch long bodies.
Damage From Armyworms
Armyworms are voracious feeders, especially on lawns and young vegetable seedlings. As their name suggests, they will decimate one area, then move in droves to another area in search of additional food. Young lawns are especially susceptible.
Armyworms usually migrate to a food source in the cool of night, so they can be hard to detect until they begin to inflict damage by eating leaves. Young, tender seedlings are often eaten at the base, causing them to fall over, similar to cutworm damage. To detect Armyworms, examine plants at night with a flashlight or douse a small portion of the lawn with soapy water, which will bring the caterpillars to the surface.
Where Armyworms Are Found Geographically
Armyworms are found throughout the Southwest and Southeast and somewhat farther North. They cause the most damage in spring and early summer.
Related or Similar Pests
- Inspect your plants at night using a flashlight and destroy any you see.
- Cultivate the soil in summer or fall to destroy larvae or expose them to birds.
- Use cardboard, paper or foil collars around the base of young seedlings.