LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - If you've noticed your lawns, hay crops, or gardens have been all but ruined, the culprit may be a small insect called an armyworm.
The creatures get their name from their ability to travel in small armies as well as their army-like feeding pattern. They're a type of caterpillar, which would lead many to assume they are completely harmless, but farmers know that's not the case.
A leaf-eating machine! They are in hay meadows, yards, they're subject to get into anything that's green and eat it up overnight," said George Woods, owner of Lufkin Farm Supply.
These creepy crawlies especially love hay meadows, which is bad news for local farmers just now drying out their crops from recent flooding.
"A double whammy; it's too wet to begin with to be able to get out there and cut or bale. And now it's gotten to where we can and now we're having to deal with the armyworms," Woods said.
The pests are just another side effect added to a list of many caused by recent rainfall in Deep East Texas. And as for the one tale-tale sign you've been invaded by creatures, Woods says look for a crowd of birds.
"Cow birds; you see a bunch of those out there, you pretty much know you've probably got them. You walk across your field early in the morning, there's dew on the grass. You'll get the worms on your boot," Woods said.
But rest assured, there are products on the market to aide in ridding the insects.
"Spraying them is the best method, with like a liquid carbaryl seven," said Woods.
And if you think this year is bad, think again.
"About five or six, you know, starting off right now and it's just really gotten started here within the last couple of week," Woods said.
So the best advice may be to head to your local supply store and stock up.
"Get the spray out and get ready because they're going to come, they're going to be here," Woods said.
Experts say homeowners need to take measures to prevent the creatures as well. They say to pay close attention when watering lawns, as armyworms are attracted to wet conditions.