Lawn care companies all over Northeast Ohio are receiving calls and emails about Armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda, family Noctuidae) and are causing substantial injury to turfgrass. These pesky larvae are not typically found in our area. However, this season’s weather has brought them to Northeast Ohio.
Armyworm caterpillars vary in color from greenish to tan to dark brown with stripes along the body. They can be easily confused with other species, but a good identifier is an inverted white “Y” shape behind the head.
Home lawn recovery also involves watering to keep the crowns hydrated as well as fall fertilizer applications to support the regrowth of the blades. Fortunately, your fertilizer applications will help with this by slowly releasing nitrogen to support turfgrass growth over a longer period.
If you think you may have armyworms in your lawn, you can spot test the area. You can test for these insects yourself by mixing a large pitcher of both dish soap and warm water and pouring over a couple affected areas. Wait about 5 minutes and observe if you see any Armyworms coming to the surface.