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Stop sod webworm from destroying lawn before it’s too late

  • Friday, September 20, 2013

The sod webworm is back - chowing on the grass you put hours of work into all summer long; eating at night while you sleep and on cloudy and rainy days, so birds and you will not catch them in the act of ruining your lawn. Sod webworms arrive in big numbers and eat so much so fast that they do not even leave the table to go to the bathroom. Nasty. For those of you who fought them last year, you knew the time would come to wage war once again.

The moths that lay eggs throughout the lawn are easy to spot. The moths fly very short distances in a zigzag pattern, most noticeable at dusk. The moths fly up right from your feet like a bobwhite quail. Once they lay the eggs, the eggs will begin to hatch in a week to ten days into the sod webworm larva, a voracious eater of turfgrass. Damage usually begins in shaded areas first.

The sod webworm larva is an insatiable eater of all types of grass that we have in the Lowcountry. Seeing groups of birds feeding in your yard is a good indication you have sod webworms. Another way to tell is that your yard appears to have been mowed really short; even though, you have not mowed your grass in a week. The blades of grass have been chewed, giving the turf a very ragged appearance. If worms of any type (sod webworm, army or cut worms) are attacking your grass it will appear that you have mowed your grass with a very dull mower blade at a slow speed and a low cutting height.

If you have any doubts, a soap flush of one ounce dish detergent in five gallons of water poured over a four square foot area, should bring them to the surface. You can see the worm if you get into the border between the good grass and the munched on grass and spread the grass blades apart. The blades of the grass are tattered and have been chewed, so they are missing parts of the leaf blade.

If you see damage, be ready to apply control product, or they will do a lot of damage very quickly to your turf and weeds will move in. One good thing is that they are very easy to manage, since their entire body is in contact with the ground. Bt, Essentria G, EcoPCO WPX and Spinosad are organic controls that are very effective against young sod webworms. Sevin, Aloft, Bug Blaster and Cyonara will easily control the voracious chow-hound.

Since mole crickets and grubs (including grubs that become Japanese beetles and grubs that are mole food) are up near the surface, I will use Sevin 7G on my yard. This formulation of Sevin is easy to apply and kills young mosquitoes (another pest on my kill list), “the nasty rascal, the chinch bug,” ticks, fleas and many other lawn pests. Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a federal law.


Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations including one at 481 Long Point Rd. in Mount Pleasant (971-9601). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at http://www.possumsupply.com. You can also call in your questions to “The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. on 1250 WTMA. The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at possumsupply.com.

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