Destructive armyworms invade Mississippi yards

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OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. – The pesky armyworm is living up to its name, invading homes and, more importantly, yards in Mississippi.

“It’s been one of those years,” said Ricki Linyard, the owner of Lawn Doctor in North Mississippi.

Linyard said in 2020, his company treated maybe half a dozen lawns in Mississippi for armyworms. This year, they have been to more than 250 homes. Monday, they were spraying yards in the Belmar Lakes subdivision in Olive Branch.

“We were out here Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and all day today. We’ve had anywhere from two to three trucks out here a day,” said Linyard.

Robert Haley lives in the subdivision. He had never heard of the armyworm and was surprised to know they were some in his yard.

“I picked one of them out of the grass with my tweezers, and I put in a bag and showed it to my neighbor,” said Haley.

Haley’s lawn already has a few brown spots. He said he wanted to make sure the worms didn’t destroy his yard and decided to have it treated.

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Linyard said as soon as you see a brown patch, that’s the time to call a professional. He said the armyworms will literally suck all the green out of your grass.

“They are sucking all the chlorophyll out. That is why your yard turns brown,” said Linyard. “The more they eat, the darker they get.”

The Mississippi State Extension Office said every three to four years, there is an outbreak of armyworms, but it is usually hard to predict.

“We’ve seen them across the state. Most of the armyworms are found in Bermuda Grass lawns,” said extension agent Alex Deason.

Deason said if you find armyworms in your yards, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

“There are some over-the-counter products, but they aren’t as strong as they once were,” Deason said.

The armyworms turn into moths and fly away, but Linyard warns there could be a second invasion.

The armyworms won’t be gone for good until the weather turns cold.

So far, the armyworms don’t appear to be a big problem in the Memphis area, but the worms have been moving from the south to the north.

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