Monday, July 9, 2018

Army Worms are Chowing

Horticulture Hotline 07/09/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

A friend of mine that grew hay used to say he could hear army worms munching on the pasture as they crossed the fields. Since army worms eat the green leaves off the plant, he would lose big hay dollars to this worm. Athletic fields, golf courses, and home lawns lose the aesthetic value of the green grass, and the worms thin the canopy of the grass where weeds will move in if given a chance. Prostrate growing weeds like spurge, lespedeza and Virginia Buttonweed seem to come in the fastest.

What bothers me the most is you work all summer on your grass to have it looking nice, and once it starts to look good, fall army worms and then sod webworms attack the grass. Look for areas that appeared to have been mowed low and with a dull blade. You can see that the leaf blades have been chewed. Also thatch type debris will be churned up on the surface. Moths will fly low, during the day but mainly in the evening, dropping eggs across the lawn. Birds and low flying wasps are also predators of army worms. Thanks to cell phones last year, I took a cool picture of a wasp attacking the head of an army worm. I think my definition of ‘cool’ has changed over the years.

Since army worms are in direct contact with the ground, they are very easy to control. Bug Blaster, Bifen, Sevin, Cyonara and Acephate will all put a hurting on army worms. Thuricide (Bt), EcoVia EC and Spinosad are organic products that will also work well if you get them while the worms are small. Since the population of worms is so high and hit so hard, keep your eye out for a second hatching.

For those of you with St. Augustine and Centipede, keep your eye out for the sod web worm. Watch for moths in your yard around dusk. If you begin to see a moth that gets out of the grass, flies for 6-10 feet then lands again (like a bobwhite quail for you bird hunters) you may want to consider using one of the above mentioned products. Usually sod web worms would not come out until September / October; however, with the crazy weather we are having, scouting for them could not hurt.

If your yard has thatch, drainage, or compaction issues, now is a great time to address these issues. At Possum’s we have a granular organic product (BGK 7500) that is full of microorganisms that are thatch eaters. Easy to apply with a fertilizer spreader and very effective. Some of the zoysia grass lawns really benefit from regular use of this product.

Gray leaf spot is still alive and doing well. With all the rain, fire ants are mounding up everywhere – be careful where you step! The Super Garden Hero showed me two ant bites on his ankles Saturday at the radio show.

With all the rain, mosquitoes are out and biting, and the grass is growing like crazy. Scout around your yard for potential breeding sites for mosquitoes. It is amazing how many areas can hold enough water for a mosquito to breed.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.