Aussie woman's 'off putting' discovery in backyard: 'I'm freaking out'

The Sydney woman said her garden has been overrun with unusual nests which appear to be the larvae of armyworms.

An Australian woman says her back garden has become overrun with nests that resemble “flurry blobs” as a pest control expert warns that a “plague” has broken out across the city.

“The nest like furry blobs appeared over a month ago,” Sammi from the Sutherland Shire in Sydney's south told Yahoo News. “I brushed the first few away to see if they came back or if anything came out, which, at that stage, nothing did.”

But weeks on, Sammi now has about 10 to 15 nests in her backyard.

The nests (left and middle) and armyworms on a finger (right).
Sammi said she has discovered 10-15 of these nests on her Sutherland property in Sydney's south. Source: Supplied

“The nests just keep multiplying,” she explained. “They’re on the netting (of outdoor weather blinds), on the downpipes, under the eaves and on a cladded wall.

“I brushed one open onto my hand so we could try to see what they were and figure out if it was a fly or worm.

In a photo of the ordeal, tiny black dots can be seen across the woman’s finger. “It’s definitely off putting,” she said.

But what are they?

What Sammi is seeing, according to the owner and director of Serial Pest Control, Doug Balsom, is the larvae of armyworms.

“What will happen is the moth will come by, lay its egg — normally on the eaves or the side of the house and near lighting — and then those egg sacks will hatch and little worms will start coming out of them, like caterpillars almost,” he told Yahoo News.

“And then, they’ll start decimating the lawn and eat any plant that is related to grass.”

Small armyworm nests on netting and an outdoor ceiling.
Sammi says she has up to 15 of the small nests around her yard. Source: Supplied

From there, it’s the circle of life.

“They’ll then pupae, turn into a larvae, then the moth will hatch and it will start all over again,” Balsom explained. And worst of all, Sammi isn’t alone in her situation.

Outbreak of armyworm

“We're having an outbreak of armyworm at the moment,” the owner of Serial Pest Control said.

“I'm actually this week doing a huge commercial property. This is in a factory unit where they have decimated a particular plant there and it's just getting out of hand.

“We're also doing a lot of lawn treatments at the moment. It's just a little bit of a plague we’re having to be honest.”

Balsom believes the reason for the mass outbreak is the subtropical weather in Sydney at the moment.

“We're having humid days, a lot of moisture, and I think the grasses are growing so they’ve got a lot of resources and we're seeing a huge outbreak because of it.”

The armyworm (left) and the moth (right).
The owner and director of Serial Pest Control, Doug Balsom, said the nests belong to armyworms. Source: Department of Primary Industries

After Sammi shared her situation online, plenty of Sutherland locals jumped in to say that they were having similar issues.

“My parents have been invaded,” one person said. “They have been growing like crazy at the moment,” another added. While someone else commented that “I have lived in Miranda for 20 years in a unit and it’s the first time I’ve been invaded!”

While Sammi has been left fearing the worst when it comes to her lawn.

“It’s a massive concern if they eat the grass as we just had the lawn replaced, so that’s a massive expense,” she told Yahoo News, while explaining to Facebook users that it would “be a disaster” and everyone would “lose it” if that happened.

She also said that she “started freaking out” as she was worried about her dog.

What can residents do?

Simply put, according to Balsom, “you can’t prevent” armyworms but you can try using products and preventative measures which he calls an integrated pest management approach.

“One of the simplest, most chemical free solutions that I use is a mozzie trap with a fan in it, not a zapper, so at night the moths are attracted to the light and get sucked into the fan, then they’re captured and then they die in there.

But if you’ve already got them?

“People can get a broom and brush the nests off to destroy the eggs,” Balsom said, also recommending a insecticide called bifenthrin.

“But if they’re really worried about it, they should contact their local pest control company.”

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