Is It True, Tropical Sod Webworms Can Destroy My Tallahassee Lawn?

Tropical Sod Webworm Adult Moth.jpg

Yes! It’s that one phone call every landscaping company dreads getting from their customer. They’ve seen how quickly this pest can quietly invade a yard without getting noticed, especially if they are the company that recently installed the beautiful St. Augustine, Zoysia or Bahai lawn at their client’s home.

All it takes is less than a month. The Tropical Sod Webworm takes up residence. It gets into the grass, then down to the roots, and tears it apart from non-stop eating of the turf. And, it looks like this season these pests have arrived sooner than expected.

Here’s what you’ll discover in today’s article

If you’ve been following our recent articles, you will remember one piece we put out, 10 Old-School Remedies That Stops Lawns From Dying. In that column, we briefly mentioned how built-up thatch presents the perfect environment for Tropical Sod Webworms larvae to take over a lawn.

Well in today’s column, we’ll spend some time getting to know who this invasive critter is, how they got here so soon, where they come from, and what you can do at the first signs your yard is in distress as these unwanted pests continue dieting on your turf.

What is a Tropical Sod Webworm?

For starters, a Tropical sod webworm is the destructive pests that are part of the compound group of warm-season turf caterpillars, primarily found in South Florida. The five different stages of its life cycle are

  1. Adult moth (pictured)

  2. Eggs

  3. Larval

  4. Pre-pupal

  5. Pupal

Female adult moths will lay their eggs on grass blades beginning at dusk and into the evening hours. In about 3 – 4 days those eggs start to hatch. Now depending on the temperature, within the next 20 – 50 days, six molting phases take place as part of the webworm’s life cycle to Adult moth.

So, how did these pests make it to Tallahassee?

Annually, September to October the Adult stage moth flies up from South Florida with assistance from the Trade Winds that sweep across our state, pushing it northward. Once the moth settles on a turf location in North Florida, like Tallahassee or Leon County, it begins laying its eggs on numerous grass blades.

Due Note: If the prior winter season in Leon County was mild, then come late July or early August, there is a reasonable expectation, that adult female moths will start showing up sooner and begin laying their eggs in your lawn.

What kind of lawn damage should I expect to see?

Tropical Sod Webworm.jpg

As the Sod Webworm is devouring the grass, you’ll start noticing the lawn losing its attractiveness. The turf will begin to thin, losing any thickness. Its robustness will take on a dull appearance. The blades of grass will look chewed or have jagged edges. Finally, that vibrant looking green color on the grass blades will fade away, becoming pale or brown.

Just remember, Tropical Sod Webworm is a stone-cold enemy to all warm-season turfgrasses and some cool-season type lawns. The grasses webworm feed on include Centipede grass, Bermuda grass, Seashore Paspalum, Carpet grass, Zoysia grass, Bahia grass, and St. Augustine grasses.

How can I get rid of the Tropical Sod Webworm?

If your lawn is relatively new, then contacting the landscape company that installed it is your first step. They have seen this type of invasive infestation in the past and can assist you right away. Make sure to check your contract for any warranties that might cover this situation.

Now on your part, the mindset of keeping a healthy turf, free of Topical Sod Webworms comes down to you properly fertilizing, but never over-fertilize. Your timely irrigation, but never over water. And you initiating scheduled right-height mowing, but never cutting the grass blades too low.

As for tilling, thatch removal, and power raking, they will help reduce most pest populations. You could either rent the equipment to do it yourself or contact a local landscape company which has the equipment and experience for assistance.

Final Words

When it comes to chemical usage, always check with your landscape company first. They want to help you get rid of any Tropical Sod Webworms that damage lawns, but also know which chemicals you need to avoid that can harm our groundwater.

At Dickerson Landscaping and Lawn Care, we specialize in healthy, proactive lawn care. When you’re shopping around for landscaping or lawn care services, contact us today. Our Tropical Sod Webworm specialists are ready to take your call.

If you found, “Is It True, Tropical Sod Webworms Can Destroy My Tallahassee Lawn?” helpful, then check out this other article “Will Landscaping My Home Increase My Property’s Value?