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Armyworms march through Arkansas | Environment

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Armyworms march through Arkansas
Armyworms march through Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KTHV)- If you see a brown lawn in your neighborhood, don't jump to blame the weather or a lazy homeowner. The culprit could be the armyworm.

They look exactly like caterpillars. The insects can turn lawns from green to brown in a matter of days by eating the healthy blades of grass.

At the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock, golf course superintendent Don Armbrust keeps a close eye on the course's grass.

"Noticed a discoloration or what appeared to be drought-stress within the turf grass area."

A strange occurrence considering the amount of rain the state received during the month of July. At the beginning of August, Armbrust discovered fall armyworms eating away at the grass.

"With the cool, wet spring that we had it was definitely something we had to look out for and we ended up having to treat almost all the rough areas around the golf course."

The three-inch long insect has a history in Arkansas, but nothing to the scale of this year, where entomologist Gus Lorenzo with the U of A Extension says the number of them have reached record levels.

"In fact we termed this summer armywormageddon."

Lorenz says a cooler and wetter summer has provided ideal conditions for the armyworms. Lorenz says they're capable of destroying half an acre in 48 hours.

"This year they started out in huge numbers and they just got bigger and bigger and now we're beginning to see this transition into people's yards."

Armyworm damage can look drought hit, but if you look closely you will see the worms eating away.

That's how Armbrust says he knew he had a problem

"The green vegetation is no longer there on the leaf-blade or the stem stalk of the plant."

Lorenz says armyworms can feed on any type of grass, but they especially like Bermuda Grass.

The problem can be treated with an insecticide, but homeowners should not treat until they have a problem.