Armyworms go to war with Kansas lawns & gardens, here’s how to fight back


TOPEKA, Kan. — The armyworm has moved into Northeast Kansas, causing major problems for people who take pride in their lawn.

The worm is fittingly named, because for people suffering from an infestation, they move like a mob. In some cases, people’s lawns were virtually covered in the crawling creatures. These worms love cool season grasses, like fescue, rye and blue grass. After running out of that, the owner of Jackson’s Greenhouse & Garden Center said they will attack your flower beds.

“The thing about armyworms is they attack in an army,” said owner Dave Jackson. “They can decimate a football field, for example, in three days.”

Jackson has run Jackson’s Nursery in Topeka for 53 years. He said he’s never seen so many customers come in with a single complaint.

“This really is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Jackson said.

The worms are typical to Oklahoma and Texas. Despite a harsh winter in those states, the worms still made their way to Kansas. Leroy Russell, an Agriculture Agent at K-State Research & Extension, said he’s had several clients bringing in worms to his office in the last week. Once they’re done with lawns, they move on to other plants, like flowers and vegetables.

To fight back in the war with armyworms, yard-lovers and gardeners may need to bring in a pesticide. Experts say something like spinosad is used specifically for chewing insects. When sprayed on the armyworms, it causes them to immediately stop feeding. The worms will starve to death and save your lawn that you’ve worked so hard to maintain.

The less expensive option is a broad-use insecticide like permethrin to get the job done. A bag of Bug Blaster granules is a longer lasting version of permethrin that will work too.

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