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Army worms infesting lawns across Green Country, destroying grass

Posted at 7:10 PM, Aug 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-30 20:38:18-04

TULSA -- Brown spots in lawns across Tulsa could be due to army worms. 

Army worms are about an inch and a half long with a brown head and a green body with stripes down the side. 

The worms are not harmful to people. They do not bite or sting. 

They are not difficult to spot in a lawn. Often times, they can be seen crawling across the grass. 

The worms are drawn to Bermuda grass. 

Some people have them so bad that their entire lawn looks like it is moving. 

Sheila Kanotz, director of horticulture at the Philbrook Museum of Art, said they noticed over the weekend that their lush green landscape was infected. 

She said they leave behind brown spots and could turn an entire lawn brown in a day if they go untreated.

"They will eat the entire leaf or they'll leave just eat a little bit, so you see kind of a clear look to it but mostly they are not going to permanently kill it," Kanotz said. 

Kanotz said if someone just has a few in their yard, they may not be harmful. Five army worms in a square foot of grass, however, means there is an infestation and should be treated.

"One way a homeowner can scout is by getting a tablespoon of lemon-scented dish soap and mixing it with a gallon of water and then pouring it over a one foot square area," Kanotz said.

Doing that will bring the worms to the surface so they are easier to spot. 

Birds will help get rid of them, but for faster results, Bill Lenard with Lee's Feed and Supply suggest using a product specifically for army worms. He has everything from powders and oils to liquids to get rid of the pests. 

"The more expensive the product, the quicker and easier it is to apply," Lenard said. "Cheaper the product, the more labor." 

Most cost between $10 and $20. Depending on the product, it could take minutes, hours or days to get rid of them.

He said if he had to use a product, he would use Diatomaceous Earth. Lenard said it is a powder that cuts the army worm's stomach as they moves across the granules. 

Lenard said it is important to take action. If someone does not, he said it could cause problems down the road.

"Come this fall, you are going to get chickweeds and dandelion and all your winter weeds," Lenard said. "Then, you'll be fighting that process going into spring." 

He said it is important to choose a product that is best for your situation. Lenard said some are harmful for people and pets.

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