Illinois Extension has been receiving reports of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) from across central Illinois over the past few weeks. The department of crop sciences reports increasing numbers of fall armyworm across western and southern Illinois as well.
Fall armyworm is the caterpillar of a non-native moth that migrates north from central America each year. It is typically a problem in the southern US every year, but not always a problem in the Midwest. In the south, it can be a major agricultural pest, impacting crop fields…but in Illinois, it is mostly noted as a landscape pest, impacting lawns.
Caterpillars hatch in turf grass and consume all grass blades, “marching” across the lawn in a group to consume new areas. Damage appears as dead, brown grass that is partially consumed by the caterpillars. Since roots are not consumed, healthy lawns will grow back with adequate watering, but be sure to water.
For more, check out the Garden Scoop Blog at: go.illinois.edu/gardenscoopblog.