Army Worms

By now you have probably heard of ‘Army Worms’ in Texas. Before I talk about treatments, here are some facts:

  1. The army worms eat the leaves of Bermuda grass. They will not kill the grass, but it will usually take until the next year to fully recover. They are a nuisance, but they don’t eat most plants or other grasses like St. Augustine turf grass or Zoysia turf grass.
  2. We have some amount of army worm presence every year on a scattering of lawns.
  3. They can keep coming until the first freeze.
  4. I can treat army worms if they invade your lawn, but most importantly we can treat preventatively to stop army worm damage.

I strongly recommend annual preventative Grub Worm and Army Worm treatments to our customers with Bermuda grass. The Grub Worm treatment is done in June and the Army Worm treatment in September each year. Those two treatments allow me to control grubs, army worms, and cinch bugs. I am also able to apply other nutrients and soil amendments in the mixture making these two treatments extremely valuable to a Texas lawn.

Unfortunately, if these treatments are not done and there is an army worm invasion I can rarely get to the property before damage is done. Please read on for more information about the products used and a description of the treatments.

The army worm infestation is bad, but worse is how the treatments are being handled. Most (companies, homeowners, and agriculture managers) are using a product with the active ingredient Bifenthrin to treat the worms. A little about Bifenthrin: Bifenthrin is a member of the pyrethroid chemical class. It is an insecticide and acaricide which affects the nervous system and causes paralysis in insects. The U.S. EPA has classified bifenthrin as Toxicity Class II-moderately toxic.

Products containing Bifenthrin must bear the SIGNAL WORD: WARNING. Worst of all, Bifenthrin kills a lot of bugs including beneficial insects. It also only provides a few days of control, so most applicators are committing to treating every two weeks until the first freeze. That is a lot of needless treatments and senseless damage to the beneficial insect population. And with more treatments comes a higher risk of contamination of the water supply.

At A J Southwest we use a product called Acelepryn. The active ingredient is Chlorantraniliprole. Acelepryn is labeled as a ‘reduced risk’ pesticide and has little or no impact on beneficial insects or birds, nor does it have a ‘signal word’ on the label (as per the EPA). Acelepryn is far from perfect, but what makes it the ‘no-brainer’ product to use is it’s 2 – 4 months of control for army worms, grub worms, and chinch bugs. That’s right, it can be used as a curative (kills the active worms) or a preventative solution. That also means one application in June and another in September controls army worms, grub worms, and chinch bugs until the end of the year. No need for treatments every two weeks nuking everything.

The official A J Southwest service description for Fall Army Worms and Grub Control is listed below. Contact us if you would like to become part of our lawn and ornamental plant program or add this service to your existing program.

Fall Army Worm Prevention and Grub Control: This service is done in June and September to prevent and control Grub Worms and Army Worms. It will control Army Worms until the end of the year. While there is no guarantee for grub activity, the treatment will help to substantially reduce and control the active grub population. The product used is called Acelepryn. It is EPA approved to not harm beneficial insects. While most people/companies use an inexpensive toxic pest control product that will kill most any bugs in the lawn, Acelepryn is a targeted approach with no impact on humans or pets. The cheap toxic products only last a few days, while Acelepryn provides many months of Army Worm and grub control.


Jay Newman