Monday, September 10, 2012

Sod Webworm "Flash Mob of Munchers"

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 you worked so hard on all summer! Sod webworms arrive in big numbers like a “Facebook Flash Mob” and eat so much so fast that they do not even leave the table to go to the bathroom! Nasty!

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. 

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, 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 just used 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.  

Register now for the upcoming Successful Tree planting and Establishment workshop sponsored by Trees SC and Possum's Landscape & Pest Control Supply. The workshop will be held Saturday, September 29 at the Horticulture Department building at the Trident Technical College main campus on Rivers Ave. in North Charleston.
Species Selection/Quality Nursery Stock: Tony Bertauski, Trident Tech.
Proper Planting Techniques: Danny Burbage, City of Charleston.
Mulching and Irrigation: Nate Dubosh, MUSC Campus Arborist.

This is a FREE workshop. Registration forms are at all three Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply stores. For directions for the store near you go to  

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.