One insect that is a major concern for gardeners and owners is the sod webworms. These are a common surface feeding insect that damage lawns. They live in virtually everyone’s lawn, but most of the time the damage is never noticed because there aren’t enough webworm larvae or the lawn is healthy and strong enough to repair itself. No harm, no foul. However, there are times when sod webworms become a problem and damage turf. Damage usually manifests itself as irregular dead patches that spread over time. The grass blades seem to cut off at the crown and sometimes you can see little balls of worm dropping or frass.
These pests look like tiny caterpillars but may not be visible as they hide in the soil. However, green pellets may be seen that they leave behind on grass blades. Sod webworms chew off the grass blades in lawns and the damage looks similar to a badly-cut lawn. What’s worse, sod webworms are drawn to beautiful looking lawns that are healthy and lush. They are small lawn caterpillars that feed on lawns, causing severe damage very quickly. Mature sod webworms can cause quite a bit of damage before they develop into dingy brown moths. They can consume enough grass in a short period of time to cause homeowners to think that the damage has occurred “overnight.”
Small brown spots may appear in the grass, a little at first, and then as the season progresses with rising temperatures and drier conditions, grass growth slows and the brown spots become larger and intersect. This is an indication of possible sod webworm infestation. They have even been noted to cause damage to small grain crops such as corn, wheat, and oats. The most severe damage usually shows up in July and August when the temperature is hot and the grass is not growing vigorously. In fact, most sod webworm damage is mistaken for heat and drought stress. Sod webworm-damaged lawns may recover slowly, without irrigation and light fertilization. These thin turf areas allow weeds to establish in the lawn making it unsightly.
The article given below would better explain the damage caused by these insects.
Tropical sod webworms active in local lawns
By Larry Williams, October 2, 2014
During the past few weeks, numerous people have contacted the Okaloosa County Extension Office seeking diagnostic assistance and control options concerning fall sod webworms in their lawns.
Sod webworms are not consistently a problem every year. Some years their numbers are low enough that they are not a problem. Some years we do not see them at all.
Those years when they are a problem, it’s usually not until late summer and early fall that they become active. And, they may continue to feed on lawns until frost occurs.
Sod webworm larvae are commonly found feeding on St. Augustinegrass, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass.
Sod webworms tend to feed in patches and feed at night.
Adults of these species are fairly small grayish to brown moths.
Because sod webworms feed at night, don’t be surprised if you can’t find them during the day. The greenish or tan caterpillars will be resting, curled up near the soil line.
If you have damaged spots in your lawn, look closely for notched leaf blades, the telltale signs of their chewing damage.
They may also be found by parting the grass and looking for small green caterpillars (no larger than ¾-inch in length) curled up on the soil surface and for small green or brown pellet-like droppings.
Picking the bugs off grass by hand is obviously not an effective solution. Thus we need a solution which would effectively keep the sod webworm population in check, keeping them away from our lawns and crops, while at the same time not having any negative impact on the environment.
C Tech Corporation offers a product called Termirepel™, which is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, environmentally safe insect repellent. It can repel more than 500 species of insects on account of it being a broad spectrum anti-insect repellent. The most striking feature of Termirepel™ is that it neither kills the target species, nor the non-target species. It will simply keep the insects away from the application. This product is available in masterbatch and lacquer form and as a liquid solution. Termirepel™ can be added in mulches or incorporated in agricultural bags and films, which could be used to keep our lawns safe and guarded against the pesky sod webworms!