Monday, October 8, 2012

D@&M Sod Webworm

It has been over a month now, and the sod webworm is still chewing the grass down to the runner, leaving weakened areas for weeds. The jagged, half chewed leaf blades give the grass a ratty appearance and give an opening for disease also. I know one yard that has had four different insecticides applied to it and new damaged areas keep appearing.

During “The Garden Clinic” radio show this past weekend, The Super Garden Hero and I must have had 8 calls in an hour about the sod webworm. So many calls on one subject is a sure indication that the Lowcountry is under attack. In the 23 years that we have done the radio show, I cannot remember (might be because I’m getting old) one topic dominating the phone lines like the sod webworm did this past weekend.  Hopefully, the cooler weather will send this “snowbird” insect back down to Central Florida and South Florida where it overwinters.

If you are battling the sod webworm, you might want to mow your grass every 5 to 7 days a little lower than normal. Sod webworms usually eat at night and on cloudy days, so birds (a natural predator) will not see them. By keeping the grass cut low, the birds might be able to see them easier and you might get some free control.

You might want to put some bird feeders out to attract birds. All birds do not eat sod webworms, but the webworm might be scared to feed on your grass with a bunch of bird activity in your yard. Birds are also fun to watch anyway.

If you can apply any control products late in the afternoon or early evening closer to the time the insect feeds, your success might increase. Due to scheduling late applications are not always practical; however, if you can do it late, give it a try.

Hopefully, this is that freaky year and we will go back to our normal mild fall outbreak. Every year one pest dominates the landscape and this has been the year of the sod webworm. I’m glad we do not have to fight it all year long like they do in South Florida.
A cold winter will do a lot to keep the sod webworm in check here.

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