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Metro Atlanta Armyworm Invasion Could Be Worst in 30 Years | News

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Metro Atlanta Armyworm Invasion Could Be Worst in 30 Years
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ATLANTA -- Homeowners all over Metro Atlanta are watching their lawns go brown, unaware that the culprit is a fast and furious army busy feeding on their fescue.

In Douglas County, Vernon Pigg assumed the dry brown patches that have scorched his backyard were all the result of the brutally hot weather. One evening, he saw his grass tremble.

"The wind wasn't blowing, but you could see the blades moving," said Pigg. "Then you get to looking closer and you could find the worms."

What he found chewing on his yard were hundreds of armyworms. Despite the name, they aren't really worms at all. They're actually caterpillars that eventually become moths, not until they've done their damage.

Gibbs Landscape was called out to treat Buckhead lawn that is bristling with brown.

"The damage happened in the course of one night," said Gibbs Landscape General Manager Hugh Cooper.

Cooper says this year's armyworm invasion could be the worst Metro Atlanta has seen since 1977. It's easy for homeowners to mistake the brown for heat damage.

"You need to take a closer look," said Cooper. "Actually get on your hands and knees and look at the leaf blades to see if you can see chewing marks."

Catching the critters in the act can be tricky. They hide during the day, so the only time to catch them feeding on your lawn to look for them at night, or early in the morning. A lawn insecticide designed to kill caterpillars can defeat the army.

It did for Vernon Pigg, or so he thinks. Of course, lawn experts say there could be eggs beneath his grass that could lead to a second invasion.

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