If you have huge brown patches of dead grass on your lawn, it may be due to a sod webworm. A local lawn care company is reporting that the pesky Tropical Sod Webworm has returned to the Acadiana region. This company has been inundated with complaints from customers of dead patches of grass.
According to the LSU Ag Center, the tropical sod webworm is a common insect pest that affects turfgrass. The worm’s larvae will feed on the leaf tissue, stripping the foliage, causing injury to the plant. The lawn will start to discolor appearing yellow or brown and will eventually die.
Residents usually begin to notice the destruction of their lawn between midsummer and fall. In the early stages, the leaf height of the grass will be noticeably shorter. Webworms prefer to attack St. Augustine grass, bermudagrass, and centipedegrass.
If a yard is under attack by webworms, this is a problem that could go on for months or for years. Females lay eggs on the leaves, the larvae hatch after about a week and mature into a moth within three to five weeks. The moths are brown with wavy lines on its wings.
The LSU Ag Center suggests doing a “Flush Test” to determine if particular insects are feeding on your grass. The test involves mixing a tablespoon of lemon dish soap with a gallon of water. The solution is then slowly poured onto the grass covering the damaged and healthy areas. Examine the lawn to see if insects rise to the surface. The webworm larvae could appear translucent in color with a hint of amber.
There are several options for yards affected by the sod webworm. Residents could either contact a professional or visit the LSU Ag Center’s website for a different solution. The website outlines the proper technique for applying fertilizer to lawn turf or applying insecticides. A sample could also be submitted for identification.