You’ve worked hard to make your lawn look green, healthy and full; you water it every morning and keep it pruned to just the right height. One morning you wake up to find patches of brown and yellow over taking the vibrant green and bare spots scattered across your yard. It’s so disappointing to work so hard for something and have it be damaged so quickly.
Odds are, the culprits are sod webworms. Sod webworms, also known as ‘lawn moths’ are a type of caterpillar that attacks turf grass. These bugs are about ¾ to 1 inch long and have whitish, sometimes tan wings. Their larvae are brown or green with darker spots. Sod webworms are not often seen out and about during the day because they are nocturnal. They tend to hide in shrubs, trees or other shady, sheltered areas. If you are out in the evening or at night and see a moth-looking bug flying in a zigzag pattern with its nose towards the grass, they could be sod webworms. While the adults (the flying ones) aren’t the ones that do the damage, the eggs they lay will hatch into larvae and the larvae are born hungry.
Sod webworms prefer Bermuda grass but they are not too picky as long as they are getting something to eat. The damage they cause can span up to several feet and can be confused with drought. They chew the grass off and then drag it back under the ground, leaving bare patches. Sometimes birds will contribute to webworm damage by using their beaks to try to hunt for them, leaving behind small holes in turf.
Sod webworms are particularly active during August. With the warm temperatures and grass growing at a slower pace, they’re out looking for something to eat. They like banks, steep slopes and other dry areas on your lawn where it might be more difficult for water to get or pool.
It is not easy to get rid of sod webworms and the chemicals you can get at the hardware store to try to eliminate them can be dangerous. If you think you might have a problem with sod webworms, you should contact a professional as soon as possible. They know exactly what to look for to make sure the problem with your lawn is in fact sod webworms and they also know which chemicals to use and how to use them safely. If you try to eliminate the problem on your own, you could potentially do more harm than good. Don’t let this tiny bug eat away at all the work you’ve invested into your lawn.