Sod webworm. Courtesy of Flickr user WallTea.
This is the seventh of 11 Tricks to Make Sure Your Grass Is Always Greener, a free eBook. We’ll be posting a new trick on this blog every other week.
Worms aren’t usually a threat to a lawn. Most worms can live in harmony with the rest of the tiny creatures in your grass. Unfortunately, some worms are less kind.
The sod webworm is a pest that eats grass at night. The damage is often subtle and can go unnoticed for months.
In the earliest stage, the insect is still a larvae and scrapes at the blades of grass (rather than taking a big bite out of them.) As they start to grow, their appetite for grass increases, and they’ll start to chomp big sections out of the grass blades. As their feeding continues–usually from April through the fall–you will notice more damage to your yard.
On close inspection, you’ll be able to see a raggedy edge to the blades of the grass. From a longer perspective, the infected areas will look thinner and have empty patches.
You can prevent sod webworms by using appropriate amounts of fertilizer and water on your lawn. If you’re not sure what those amounts are, please ask us for free advice! You should also cut your lawn on a regular basis, so that you don’t need to trim too much in one day. Shocking your lawn can invite pests.
If you see sod webworms or the remnants of their greenish pellets of excrement, you should call for treatment. If they aren’t visible to the naked eye, you can also check for sod webworms by flushing them out with this unique technique:
Mix an ounce of dish detergent in a gallon of water. Pour the soapy mixture over an area of about four square feet of lawn where you think you might be infected. Wait a few minutes and check the area. If you see 20 sod webworms or more, it’s time to call for treatment.