Marching & munching, army worms invade East TN lawns
(WBIR-Loudon County) If you've seen a brown lawn in your neighborhood, don't blame the weather, blame the army worm.
The three-inch long insect has a history in Tennessee, but nothing to the scale of this year, where entomologists say the number of them have reached record levels.
"There are thousands, millions of them out there, and it's like they've taken a weed eater and mowed the grass extremely close," John Goddard with the Loudon County Extension said.
Doctors with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture report the army worm has been seen as far north as Minnesota, which is rare for an insect that is normally seen in the South.
"I've not seen this much damage, but I've only worked some 30 something years," Goddard added.
The only way to kill the insect is with pesticides. Farmer John Hewett has seen a significant portion of his 130 acres of grass eaten by the bug.
"We noticed the field 'browning out' on September 5,' Hewett said. "Found the army worms working on this grass."
Natural predators, like black wasps and certain birds, also feed on the insects.