Tropical Sod Webworms and Your Lawn
Tropical sod webworms (TSW) damage is often initially misdiagnosed as drought stress as the plant appears thin and brown/yellow in appearance. Upon closer inspection, evidence of feeding and stubby leaves are a sign of TSW activity.
Tropical sod webworms are small worms that are typically ¾” in length that feed on grass blades, severely thinning out the turf density. This damage leaves the turf thin by defoliating the turf and leaving only stems and stolons behind.
Tropical sod webworms are one of the most destructive turfgrass pests in Florida, along with mole crickets and chinch bugs. TSW can be found in Florida as early as April and as late as December, but in central Florida, are usually first seen in late June/early July, with another occurrence in September/October.
TSW will feed on all varieties of turfgrass found in Central Florida including St. Augustine, zoysia, bahia, and seashore paspalum. Turf along the edge of shrubs and wood lines are typically the first areas to see signs of damage since the adults rest in the foliage and moths lay more eggs in the adjacent turf.
TSW have a four-stage life cycle with several instars (metamorphoses) in those stages. This begins as eggs laid by adult moths and move onto larvae that actively feed on turfgrass. The next stage is the pupa that create webs in preparation for the final stage as an adult moth.
There are several products on the market for control of TSW. Benchmark Turf Management begins with an organic contact treatment in the early period of activity. During the most active times, we utilize a systemic product to provide two months of control to protect your lawn and investment. After treatment, grass will usually recover in 2-3 weeks. To learn more about our services, please visit our lawn services page or request an estimate now.