Well-fertilized Bermuda hay fields, millet and other forage crops seem to be their preference, but they can feed on our pastures and even home lawn grass. Extension entomologists recommend checking fields that the armyworms prefer on a regular basis, so you can make the best management decision quickly. The first signs you might see could be brown patches in the field from their feeding or an unusually large number of crows in the field, as they are feeding on the armyworms.
In hay fields, sometimes the best option is to go ahead and mow the hay as soon as you find the worms. Once the hay has been mowed, the armyworms will quit feeding on it. There are also insecticides that can be used to control them, but we need to be sure to follow all labeled instructions, such as grazing or haying withdrawal periods.
As mentioned earlier, they can also be a problem in home lawns, but the damage is usually just cosmetic. When they invade a lawn, it will give it a similar appearance to a lawn that has been scalped with a lawn mower. Established lawns should naturally recover in a couple of weeks.
For more information on identifying or deciding how to treat an armyworm invasion, call the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.