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How to Kill Armyworms Safely

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Armyworms are showing up in our area of the country right now- and we had to act fast to get rid of them before they destroyed our grass! These little guys can be pretty devastating to a healthy lawn. These worms are actually the larvae of a gray brown moth, prevalent in the late summer and fall. The proper spelling is Armyworm, if you aren’t familiar with them. See a few ideas on how to get rid of Armyworms safely with household products.

Army Worm

What Are Armyworms??

If you haven’t yet seen the news, these guys are showing up in lawns across Oklahoma right now. (And maybe in surrounding states). I am not a bug expert or weather expert by any means, but if you’ve spotted these they can be very destructive to grasses, vegetables, and other plants.

Yep. Not to alarm anyone, but they can cause large sections of grass to die within about 48 hours. They have been popping up all over the OKC Metro. Most of the people I know have used pesticide to get rid of them, but as you are probably aware, pesticides can be costly and dangerous to kids, pets, and the environment in general! Not to mention, right now most of the popular pesticides are sold out in stores and lawn care companies are booked. If you’re desperate to find something, several websites I saw recommend Seven pest control. Be sure to follow instructions and spray your entire lawn.

If you’re looking for a quick fix that avoids harmful chemicals, we found a few things to help save your grass!

Army Worms on side walk

How do I know if I have Armyworms on the Lawn?

There are a few easy ways to find them. For one, go outside and look at your grass. Any large yellow or dying splotches may indicate their presence.

Next, flood a small area of grass with water. The worms cannot tolerate the water-saturated soil (like any worm or caterpillar) and they will start popping up to the surface within a few minutes. Try to water a small, low lying area of grass so you can spot them if they start coming to the surface. They aren’t that small– but they may be hard to see at first. If you can look closely at one, they have a characteristic “V” between their eyes. They are brownish green with long yellow markings.

Finally, if you identify one or more of these in your yard– act fast! They can kill the grass and spread quickly.

Dish soap

How to Kill Armyworms with Dawn Dish Soap

If you decided against insecticides, you can opt to use regular blue Dawn Dish Soap to control these pests. Armyworms are more active in the morning and late evening, so you do want to treat your lawn when most of them are out– eating!

We have an organic garden in your back yard, so for us the last thing we want to do is treat with commercial insecticides. We try to use non-toxic cleaners and bug sprays whenever possible.

The good news is that it does not take a lot of Dawn soap to treat your lawn. You probably need to invest in a lawn sprayer for this, however, since the army worms can spread very fast and you likely have them in areas of the lawn you haven’t noticed yet. One female moth can lay hundreds of eggs at a time! Unfortunately for the grass, they spread very quickly. I would invest in a 2 gallon lawn sprayer since this mix only treats about 8 square feet per 2 gallons! You will have to refill several times to cover your entire yard.

Just mix using a kitchen funnel. You can mix it right in the sprayer to save a step! Apply to grass and allow to sit– ideally do not apply to grass immediately before it rains. If you need to keep this DIY for reference, see directions and print below. I hope this helps you solve the armyworm problem if you’re currently trying to save your grass from these critters. Best of luck!

Yield: 2 gallons

Dawn Dish Soap Spray for Fall Armyworms

Army Worms on side walk

Use this spray for Fall Armyworms if you have established that they are in your yard. Use this mixture with a hand sprayer for the quickest application- link on blog post!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $30

Materials

  • 1 teaspoon Dawn Dish Soap
  • 2 Gallons Water

Tools

  • 1 Lawn Hand-Sprayer for Pesticide- link on blog post to Amazon
  • Kitchen Funnel

Instructions

Fill a 2 Gallon Lawn Sprayer with water- it does not have to be distilled.

With a kitchen funnel, add 1 tsp Dawn Dish Soap.

Mix gently and prime sprayer.

Measure out or eyeball 8 square feet of affected lawn area. You should use the entire two gallons over this space.

If needed, repeat the mixture and move to the next 8 square foot area of the lawn.

Notes

This DIY will work best if you spray when the most armyworms are out and feeding on the grass and vegetation. It should kill them quickly. Early morning or late evenings are best.

Caution: Watch your lawn and vegetation for signs of continued armyworm destruction. If needed you can repeat this DIY lawn spray, or spray with a commercial insecticide.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Credit to BackyardBoss for info on these insects.

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