FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – If it looks like your lawn is moving, look closer. It might not be the wind.
Armyworms are appearing almost overnight in some North Texas neighborhoods, crawling through grass, marching across streets and sidewalks, and climbing walls.
In large numbers, the small, dark-colored worms can eat their way through green lawns and wipe out farm fields before they develop into moths and disappear.
Though they appear every season, the worm has exploded in large numbers in Texas this year. Entomologists said late summer rains may have benefitted the pest, but they couldn’t be certain of a specific cause for the outbreak.
Rob Higdon, who runs The Bug Whisperer, a pest control company in Keller, said he had never had a call about the worm until this week. By noon Thursday, he had five.
“I’m not really having roach jobs, and termite jobs, it’s all armyworms,” he said.
He was spraying perimeters of homes to keep them outside, but treating an entire yard just wasn’t cost effective for most people, he said.
Mike Merchant, an urban entomologist with Texas A&M in Dallas, said the worms will feed on blades of grass, leaving them brown and torn. It’ll look like a lawnmower was set to low.
Often once you can see the damage, it’s too late to stop the infestation. Consumer insecticides will work against them if they start invading patios or climbing walls.
In Keller, that’s what Rebecca Morovitz woke up to this week. The worms covered her patio, pool and three acres of land.
“We’re already losing our grass,” she said. “It’s never been, this depleted.”
She had Higdon’s company spray around the house, but they were still standing tall on the ends of blades of grass all over the lawn.
The destructive larval stage lasts about two weeks, but infestations can persist until colder fall and winter temperatures set in.