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Column: Turn the chickens (or a pesticide) loose on Armyworms
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Column: Turn the chickens (or a pesticide) loose on Armyworms

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The past year and a half has been stressful, to say the least, and some say it is a sign of Biblical end-of-times.

A pandemic, floods, murder hornets, a near miss from an asteroid (that one missed us by a mere million miles), hurricanes and now Armyworms.

Our landscape division has been fielding calls about once lush lawns turning brown in a matter of days. So, if you haven’t already heard about them, say hello to our little friend, the Armyworm. They are only 1 to 1½ inches long, varying in color from green to mottled brown to almost black, with a black stripe running down each side and very hungry. These creatures are not new, but this year they have been prolific.

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This is not a pest that winters over in our area, so they either march in or are blown in by those nice breezes we were enjoying from a past hurricane. Customers mention seeing a couple of brown patches in their yard, and practically overnight, their beautiful green lawn has become a brown wasteland.

If you wonder if you have them, put a half-ounce of dish detergent in a gallon of water, pour on grass, and see if they come up.

Unless you have a flock of chickens, the only other options are to throw in the towel and wait to see what next year brings or treat the yard with a pesticide labeled for Armyworms. Armyworms are most active late in the day and at night, so apply the pesticide as late in the day as possible. Liquid is more effective then granular. I cannot stress enough — always read the labels, three times! Or contact a reputable lawn service to help you with this issue.

Fall is coming, so aerate your lawn, over-seed and fertilize, and plan for next year.

Applying the pesticide at the first of August can help prevent another siege on your lawn, or I can rent out my chickens for a few days. Hopefully, next year’s breezes will not hold too many surprises. But if it is the end-of-times, I hope to see you at the Rapture.

Laurie Rubner is the owner and operator of The Arbor Garden Center in Bethlehem.

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