Exotic 'Armyworms' Destroying Lawns Across Tennessee

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An exotic species of worm is wreaking havoc on lawns across Tennessee after an active hurricane season brought the insects further into the South, WATE reports.

Fall armyworms are a species from the Caribbean that thrive in hot, tropical climates. During the year, they tend to migrate from Central America to southern states like Texas and Florida, but the powerful storms of Hurricane Ida brought the insects into Tennessee.

According to Dr. Frank Hale, a professor of entomology at the University of Tennessee, fall armyworms can grow up to an inch and half when fully mature, have dark and light stripes on them, and are "not a fuzzy caterpillar."

While they're not harmful to humans, fall armyworms could cause significant damage to your lawn or garden, turning lawns brown and destroying crops as they eat and digest. To stop the damage from getting too bad, Hale said they insects should be dealt with early.

"They're easier to kill when they're in those early stages, said Hale. "If you wait until they're bigger, they're more difficult to kill and they've already done damage."

So how do you know if your lawn is currently invaded by the worms? According to the news outlet, mix a small amount of dish soap with a gallon of water and pour it over a 4-square-foot area of your lawn. If any of the worms are hidden, the soapy mixture should irritate them and cause them to rise above the grass. To get rid of them, call a pest control or lawn service.

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