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Fall armyworms destroying yards, crops in Arkansas

The armyworms are causing major issues for rice farmers in particular, and typical insecticides aren't cutting it.

BRYANT, Ark. — Fall armyworms are marching through yards and fields across Arkansas, and they are causing some serious damage.

The insects, which are part of the caterpillar family, are especially prevalent in south Arkansas.

Zac McCauley, business operations manager at McCauley Services in Bryant, said his business has recently received many calls from people who need help getting rid of armyworms.

"Your nice yard that you paid a lot of money for, you work hard on to make look good — they will eat that up in a matter of days," McCauley said.

According to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, fall armyworms often prefer lush green well-fertilized bermudagrass, which is the type often found in residential areas and yards.

They can also cause major issues for farmers.

"It can cause a lot of yield loss," said Ben Thrash, entomologist for the extension said.

You might think this year's winter storm would help control the problem, but Thrash said that is simply not the case.

"It just completely kind of caught a lot of people off guard," Thrash said.

The armyworms are causing major issues for rice farmers in particular, and typical insecticides aren't cutting it.

"We actually had to apply for what's called a section Section 18 Emergency Authorization Use for an extra insecticide," Thrash said.

So what should people watch out for?

"A lot of times they first see what we call window-paining," Thrash said. "It's just the tips of the leaves out there, like in a pasture or a lawn, or field turning white."

Larger armyworms will eat the leaf and stem of your grass.

"You'll get spots of dead grass," McCauley said. "A lot of people think it's just because we haven't had rain or things like that. But it's actually only we're eating the leaf of the grass."

According to McCauley, time is of the essence if you want to win this battle.

"The quicker you can catch it, the better off you are," he said.

Farmers with questions about control options can contact their local county extension office. Most people having an armyworm problem at home can reach out to a pest control company.