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What's eating my brand new lawn??

By Ben Sims
7 April, 2021

Lawn garden pests – Fall Army worm (cut worm)

 If you have noticed small brown moths in your garden in Perth during the last couple of months (quite often allot of them) then it’s likely that these are the adult phase of Fall Army worm/cut worm. Since February, the weather has been quite humid and warm and provided a perfect environment for these and other pests to reach large numbers and cause significant issues across Perth.

The name “Cut worm” comes from the damage that they do as they eat the leaf blades and can eat them right back to the ground leaving a lawn that looks like it’s been cut by a dodgy lawn mower operator who has done a bad job (they didn’t bother doing the edges).  

These moths lay eggs in your lawn which hatch to form the larvae stage(caterpillars) which wake up hungry and ready to eat your freshly grown lawn. It’s easy to identify these guys but a good start is seeing the moths in your garden that lay the eggs. They will generally start in your garden and then move to your lawn especially if it’s got soft juicy leaves like a newly laid lawn. If you want to see the caterpillars simply pour some warm soapy water over your lawn especially just before the sun goes down as this is when they become active. They will rise to the surface and you can see just how many are in each square meter of your lawn now.

The lifecycle can be fast depending on the temperature from 6 to 20 days so chemical control is important if the damage is significant to break the life cycle. 

With existing lawns if you can hold off on fertilizing whilst the pest numbers are at high levels you can avoid the need for chemical control and prevent allot of damage. Applying fertiliser will promote soft juicy leaves which will be a target for Army worm, and you will likely require chemical control if they start to fancy the new soft growth that fertilising will bring.

Please see your local nursery for solutions for chemical control if damage is severe enough. 

Give us a call if you want help with any issues you have in the garden.