Armyworms Are Chomping Through Lawns Across the U.S.

Tiny troops are marching — and munching — through lawns across the country, leaving grass and plants dead in their wake. Experts say a particularly widespread and intense outbreak of armyworms is overtaking lawns, leaving masses of Styrofoam ball-like eggs stuck to patio furniture and the sides of houses. When they hatch, the pests can turn a lush green lawn into a brown, barren wasteland seemingly overnight. Entomologists say this year is like a perfect storm. Fall armyworms are laying siege to North Carolina, but also as far west as Texas and as far north as Michigan and northeastern states, areas that rarely see such significant armyworm populations. The buggy brigade returns to Oklahoma each year in late summer and early fall, marching in large swaths from one food source to another until the winter frost kills them, but this year, there's been an "unprecedented" number of armyworms in places that don’t normally see them. Experts say the reason could be a number of factors, including a warming climate, wetter weather, or changes in natural enemies such as predators, parasites and pathogens. Unfortunately, there's not much people can do to protect their lawns from the scourge except wait for the first killing frost, but for lawns, that will be too late.