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Why are armyworms so abundant this year?

They've invaded and devoured lawns all over the south

ATLANTA — Your lawn may be under attack by an army that is the product of a perfect storm.

Portions of the south are suffering through a massive invasion of fall armyworms.

One of the worst invasions in decades may be a result of storms.

“The more rain, the more lush green, the more food available to them, and they are crazy with that,” said University of Georgia Entomologist Dr. Shimat Joseph.

Armyworms devour lawns and crops and there are several possible reasons why they’re causing more problems than usual this year.

Armyworms are actually caterpillars that become moths, then travel across the country. Dr. Joseph says their travels started early this year, allowing the moths more time to settle, lay eggs, and produce an army.

“The weather pattern might have helped,” said Dr. Joseph. “The weather current, hot air, cold air, all those things can suck up those moths.”

Suck them up and carry them to a new home. Tropical storms and hurricanes will do that. There’s been no shortage of tropical systems this year.

The south has seen above-average rainfall, helping grass grow and encouraging armyworms to eat and reproduce.

“They can wipe out a lawn from green to brown in a couple of days,” described Joseph. 

A single moth can lay thousands of eggs at a time.

The good news is that armyworms typically can’t survive a Georgia winter. Dr. Joseph says their numbers should start to dwindle before Thanksgiving.