Every year in September we get calls for army worms. The small worms find themselves at the top of every blade of grass in your yard. They’ll burn your grass to the ground in many cases. As expensive as turf grass is, especially in Oklahoma, it’s important that we take care of these insects as soon as possible. The window for control of army worms is actually quite small. In order to do this, we need to be informed about army worms and how they work. In this article, let’s explore army worms, their life cycle and how we can eliminate them from our yards.


Army worms are the lava form of the army worm moth. These insects develop using a complete metamorphosis. They start as an egg laid by an adult mouth usually high up on a surface somewhere. They will lay anywhere up to 1000 eggs in order to maintain the species. This large mass of white to yellowish white eggs usually seen underneath a leaf or on the eve of a home. Once they hatch, the larva will emerge from these eggs. These larva will use a silk strand in order to drop down to the grass level. Here they will find plenty of foliage for them to eat. 

The larva will feed upon grass and other plant matter and eventually molt. The process of molting or shedding its skin indicates that an instar has occurred. The army worm goes through five instars. The first four instars are denoted by very little grass damage. While the homeowner may notice a little bit of damage, the real damage starts in the fourth and fifth instars. It’s here that the insect will eat 90% of the grass that it will eat in his lifetime. 


Often there are so many of these army worms that it kills large sections of turf grass at a time. All the damage from the first four instars looks more like drought damage or excessive heat. But when the later stages occur, entire sections of your lawn can die. In this short period, it’s important that you get your yard treated by a Broken Arrow pest control company as soon as possible. 

It’s in this last few stages of development that the army worm gets its name. Often you can look over your grass and see every blade of grass covered with a single army worm. This makes them look like an army of worms have attacked your yard. After they finish this section of feeding, they will dive deep into the thatch of the grass between the soil and the thatch and pupate. They’ll be pupated for approximately 20 days until they emerge as an adult moth.


The army worm can be easily denoted by the yellow stripes going down its back and the inverted Y on the top of its head.   Army moths on the other hand are a small mouth that is white in color with a teardrop shaped gray on the outside of the wings. They have white under wings and usually are about an inch and a half in wingspan. The adults are almost always attracted to light. The male and female will find one another and mate in mid air. Once this happens, the female will find a spot to lay her thousand eggs high above the ground. This protects the eggs from predators.

Because of this, one of the first things you can do to protect yourself from army worms is to try to limit the amount of light that you have around your home in the evenings.   If you have large lights in your yard or on your home, it may be a good idea to shut them off earlier in the evening. This will attract fewer insects including the army moth. And this also will keep other predators away from your house such as spiders and scorpions which will feed upon insects that are attracted to the light.


It’s usually difficult to see army worms or to determine if they are destroying your yard in the early stages of their development. But in about early August to late September, you will see these worms crawling up your grass blades. It’s at this time that you need to get a good Tulsa pest control company to come in and spray for these insects to kill off as many as you can. In most cases, once they are seen on the blades of grass, you may only have a couple days to treat before they retreat to their pupa form.  While there may be some over-the-counter sprays that are effective against treating these insects, usually the size and scope of the yard that needs to be treated is too much for the average person to treat. Because of this, it’s important you call a Tulsa exterminator they can help.

These moths usually die out once the winter months come. Once this happens, the eggs that are placed are their only hope for survival in the next year. Finding these eggs is usually very difficult because they’re tiny. A batch of eggs looks like a smear across the underneath of a leaf or other location. Because of this it’s important that we get them in their late larva stage.  This is before they can do the real damage and reproduce further.


If you’re having issues with army worms or any other insects it’s probably time that you contacted Broken Arrow exterminator. Here at TermMax Pest Control with the best exterminator in the business and we specialize in army worms and other pests.  We service the greater Tulsa area including Coweta, Claremore, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Sand Springs, Prattville, Sapulpa, Owasso, Turley, Jenks, Bixby and much more. Call today for a free estimate. We’re here to help!

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