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Fall Armyworms

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What are Fall Armyworms?

Fall Armyworms are shaped like caterpillars and they move into the Lowcountry any time between July and August. Their favorite turf in the Charleston, SC area is Bermuda, however, they eat most any of our varieties. You can identify a Fall Armyworm by the inverted “Y” on its head. While in the larvae (caterpillar) stage of its life cycle, Fall Armyworms eat the grass blades of the plant. There are a few signs that an infestation is happening on your lawn:

  1. An increase in bird activity on your lawn – birds like to eat caterpillars!
  2. Wasps hovering over your turf – wasps like to eat caterpillars!
  3. Moths flying out of your turf.
  4. Notching or chew marks on blades of grass. 
  5. Lawn browned overnight.


Life Cycle

They overwinter in southern Florida and Texas and move into the Charleston, SC area via airstreams while in their moth stage. They’re commonly referred to as Fall Armyworms because their behavior is very much like an army – potentially eating all of the blades of grass in a lawn over night. After the Fall Armyworms eat for 2-3 weeks in the caterpillar stage, they dig into the soil and then pupate. Within two weeks, a new population of moths will hatch. Then, those moths will lay their eggs (one female moth can lay up to 2,000 eggs!), those eggs hatch, and then will form into more Fall Armyworms. The cycle continues. There can be multiple cycles before they move to the next region. 


Determine if you have an infestation by calling your Weed Man Charleston, SC to come out for a FREE INSPECTION or, if you’re up for a simple science experiment, you can do a soapy bucket test. We've listed all you need to know below:

  1. Pour a silver-dollar sized dollop of liquid dish soap in a large bucket.
  2. Fill up the bucket with ~2 gallons of water.
  3. Go to your lawn and slowly pour the soapy water in a roughly 1-2’ circle. If signs of a possible infestation has occurred, pour the soapy water on the border of the green/brown turf.
  4. If you have Fall Armyworms (or any bug for that matter!), they’ll rise to the surface to get away from the soapy water.
Weed Man Charleston, SC can recognize the signs of Fall Armyworms and the difference between Fall Armyworm damage and other lawn issues. We use materials that are applied carefully and precisely at the correct time to be the most effective in controlling these hungry caterpillars.

We need your help! If you see signs of potential Fall Armyworms in your yard, DON’T HESITATE TO CALL us at (843) 884-1006.