Sod webworms are cream to greenish-brown lawn caterpillars that feed on the leaves of all turf grasses and are most active in late summer and fall in Florida. These critters are the larvae of small brown moths that do not feed on grass or cause damage but may be seen flying up out of grass when disturbed or hanging out under trees or in shrubs during the day to escape the heat. The presence of moths doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a sod webworm outbreak in that same area. When first hatched, the tiny worms scrape the surface of grass blades causing small transparent ‘windows,’ which are hard to detect.
As they grow, they take bites out of leaves, causing notching along the edges; then, they clip grass blades off completely, creating the appearance that the infested area was mowed much shorter than surrounding turf. Large sod webworms can move through entire lawns in a matter of days. Since they feed only on grass blades, established turf typically recovers quickly. Freshly cut sod is the most vulnerable because new roots are built from the products of leaf photosynthesis. Fortunately, our treatment regimen stops these ravagers in their tracks.
The Mainscape team is on the lookout for sod webworms during routine visits. Homeowners are also encouraged to submit a CSR or call 1-800-481-0096 if an outbreak is suspected so it can be treated promptly.