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Entomology: Landscape Pest Management: Insect ID: Turf


armyworm caterpillar

Armyworms, which attain a length of ½ inches, are also caterpillars of moths. Their bodies are greenish when small, but become brown when fully grown. Several stripes usually are apparent, extending from the head to the rear. The adult is a mottled brownish-gray moth with a wingspan of nearly 1 ½ inches. Armyworms occur throughout Georgia.

Life Cycle and Biology
Armyworm caterpillars pupate in the soil. The moths emerge within a couple of weeks. They are active mainly at night. There are three to six generations a year in Georgia. Female moths lay clusters of eggs on grass blades, lawn furniture, white or light colored walls, and other objects near lawns. Caterpillars hatch and begin to feed on the turf.

Damaged turf appears ragged with individual blades showing signs of chewing damage. When numerous, armyworms may devour the grass down to the ground. Young larvae skeletonize grass blades; older larvae feed on entire blades.

Control Strategies
The irritation technique described below for sod webworm also is effective for sampling armyworm populations. Populations tend to increase after drought conditions; maintain a consistent soil moisture level to help manage this pest. As with sod webworms, time insecticide applications to control armyworms during the early evening when caterpillars are feeding.

Armyworm 'moth'