Threat to lawns



Illustration by Saige Roberts

Tropical sod webworms (Herpetogramma phaeopteralis Guenée) are caterpillars that chew on blades of grass, resulting in a lawn that looks ragged, thin and brown. Despite their name, they are not limited to the tropics and have been found throughout the Southeast. The larvae of a tiny brown moth (Lepidoptera Crambidae), sod webworms live in the thatch that accumulates just above the soil in turf grasses. According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the peak season of infestation in North Florida is fall. A number of organic products will kill sod webworms, including products containing Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) and spinosad, which won’t harm birds, bees or mammals. It’s important not to use a broad-spectrum insecticide, because it would also kill other insects that are beneficial and that attack webworms, including ladybugs and Trichogramma wasps. The best option for keeping your lawn sod webworm free, however, is prevention. The main cause of caterpillar infestations is overuse of fertilizer. Keep your lawn mowed to the appropriate height, and use fertilizer sparingly. If you must water your lawn, water it deeply once a week. Shallow watering leads to thatch, which provides a home for the pest.

 

©2017 PostScript Publishing LLC, all rights reserved. Audrey Post is a certified Advanced Master Gardener volunteer with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension in Leon County. Email her at Questions@MsGrowItAll.com or visit her website at msgrowitall.com. Ms. Grow-It-All® is a registered trademark of PostScript Publishing.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
 
Send me information about...
  •  Tallahassee Magazine
  •  Emerald Coast Magazine
  •  850 Business Magazine
  •  Northwest Florida Weddings

 

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Featured Articles

Miss FAMU

Miss FAMU

Homecoming pageantry is only the beginning for the university’s royal courts.
Tom  Flanigan

Tom Flanigan

Revered for his local reporting, Flanigan mainly wants citizens to listen to each other.
TMH Golden Gala

TMH Golden Gala

Months of planning lead up to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare’s signature fundraising event of the year.
Homemade Holidays

Homemade Holidays

Create warm memories with old-fashioned, homemade decorations and goodies. DIY guru Kim Thacker shows us how.
Edit ModuleShow Tags