Is The Very Hungry Caterpillar really based on Armyworms?
Do you remember how this popular children’s book goes?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (an excerpt)
In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.
One Sunday morning, the warm sun came up and pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.
He started to look for some food.
On Monday he ate through one apple. But he was still hungry.
By Sunday he wasn’t hungry anymore, so he built himself a cocoon, took a big nap, and two weeks later he was a beautiful butterfly!
Or was he a moth? There are a LOT of similarities when you start reading….
Armyworms aren’t really worms at all
Armyworms start out as night flying moths that arrive in swarms after a cool, wet spring. You might notice them flying around the lights on your porch at night. The gray moths will arrive en masse and cover your lawn while you sleep. There they can lay up to 300 eggs per night for 3 nights, meaning each moth can lay up to almost 1,000 eggs. (Are you starting to see how they got the name “Army” worms?) Seven days later, they hatch as “very hungry caterpillars” and start feasting.
He ate and he ate and he ate.
The caterpillars or Armyworms will spend the next 20-25 days eating everything green, yellow or red. They can destroy lawns or crops almost overnight. Their only objective is to eat as much as possible. After the feast ends, they rest for about 2 weeks before emerging as a moth. The cycle continues….with the possibility of three generations of Armyworms in just one summer through fall. This newscast from 2018 shows how crops in Texas were devastated by an invasion of Armyworms.
This “very hungry caterpillar” isn’t so cute anymore.
If you aren’t convinced this is a pest instead of a cute little caterpillar, look for these signs:
- Little bits of chewed up leaves
- “Skeletonized” leaves
- The presence of birds (who like to feast on Armyworms)
- Moths swarming around your outside lights at night
How do you stop the invasion?
Because they arrive at night and hide themselves so well, you may not even know you have been invaded until the damage is done. You can be on the lookout, you can read up about Armyworms here but whatever you do, if you THINK you have them, act immediately. Just remember after the eggs have been laid, you have 7 days before the feasting begins. The feasting on your lawn.
Every story doesn’t end like this…
“Then he nibbled a hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out, and…he was a beautiful butterfly.” Now that you know more about Armyworms, you definitely know better. If you see any signs of an Armyworm attack on your lawn, please give us a call as soon as possible. Let our licensed lawn and pest technicians evaluate what is happening and plan an attack on these pests. Our Lawn and Pest Solutions crew will help you recover your lawn and protect it from future invasions. We send our trucks all over the Memphis and Oxford areas as well as all of North Mississippi.