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Armyworms invading Georgia

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Extension agents started hearing about infestations in July.

Newan, Ga. Times-Herald | August 17, 2010

 

The armyworms are coming. And they want your lawn. For dinner.
 
Armyworms, which are actually the caterpillar form of a small gray moth, arrive in Georgia every year. But this year, they are not only early, but they're particularly abundant.
 
On Monday, David Stephenson found the caterpillars covering the property of his Sullivan Road home.
 
"The grass was completely covered ... it was unbelievable," he said.
 
Tuesday morning, there were no more armyworms. And no more lush green Bermuda grass lawn.
 
"The grass is basically dead," Stephenson said. Parts of his front yard are "just about dirt," while other areas are dried and brown.
 
The armyworms were nowhere to be found.
 
Stephenson said it was one of the strangest things he's ever seen.
 
Established lawns can normally bounce back from an armyworm attack, said Stephanie Butcher, director of the Coweta County Extension Service.
 
"Bermuda has a tendency to come back, it is very vigorous," she said. "It is very rare for it to completely kill a lawn."
 
A lawn that is not as firmly established, however, may be permanently damaged.
 
Stephenson said he had new sod installed two years ago. He called the man who normally treats his lawn, but he wasn't able to get there until Wednesday, Stephenson said -- because he was so busy treating other infestations.
 
"He said there were lots of yards just like it," Stephenson said. Stephenson said he was told that his lawn probably wouldn't green back up this year. Come spring, "it may grow or it may not," he said.
 
Butcher said that, in the past week or so, her office has been getting between 20 and 30 calls a day about the armyworms.
 
Butcher said she started getting calls in early July, "which is fairly early for armyworms."
 
Read more at www.times-herald.com.

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