What Are Sod Worms?

what are sod worms

If you are like most homeowners, you probably desire to have a lush green and pristine lawn. You also know to obtain that lawn can take a lot of time and effort.

So you have two options, you can either do it all yourself or you can get professional lawn services at your home.

If you have been diligent in maintaining your lawn but are still dealing with “dead” bare grass spots, a likely insect referred to as a sod worm might be to blame.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know to understand, treat, and prevent sod worms.

What are Sod Worms?

Sod worms are commonly known as sod webworms or lawn moths. In their adult form as lawn moths, they are mostly harmless.

They are white or tan and sporadically fly over lawns in short distances in zigzagging spurts. You will usually see them flying around starting in May and throughout the summer.

During the day, lawn moths will rest on surrounding bushes or shrubs and become active around evening time. Although the lawn moth is not directly harmful itself, the larvae the female moths drop on lawns are damaging.

The larvae eventually grow to become hungry caterpillars that eat grass. Once larvae hatch, it only takes about a week for them to munch on your lawn.

The caterpillars are nocturnal, so you likely won’t see them actively going to town on your grass during the day. 

Sod webworms get their name due to their ability to build silk-lined tunnels into the lawn soil when they are larvae.

How to Identify Sod Worms

Identifying these pesky worms is challenging since most of their activity is in the evening time. Due to this, most homeowners are unaware of their presence until they see a lot of turf damage. It’s best to spot them early and implement prevention methods.

Signs You Might Have A Sod Webworm Infestation:

Timing is everything. Pay attention to your lawn during the late afternoon and evening time. Look out for the lawn moths flying sporadically around your grass. If you see them, then it’s safe to assume lawn damage will shortly follow if left untreated.

If an infestation has already occurred, on close inspection you might see grazed spots taken out of the turf. If the infestation is more serious, you may see damage down to the soil level and even some brown patches.

Inspect the thatch layer and top inch of soil for larvae and silk tunnels.

If the sod worms have been eating away at your lawn for a while then you will likely see even larger brown patches that could resemble drought spots.

DIY Confirming Sod Webworm Presence

  1. Mix 1-2 Tbsp of household dish detergent with 1-2 gallons of water.
  2. Mark off about 1-2 square feet near the suspected webworm infestation or where lawn damage is present. You can do this in multiple areas of your yard.
  3. Pour the mixture onto the lawn drenching it and wait about 2 to 5 minutes. 
  4. If sod webworms are present, you will see them wiggle to the surface of the soil. The mixture irritates the webworms causing them to react in this way. 
  5. Count how many webworm larvae you see come to the surface. If 15 or more are seen per square yard then treatment options are usually suggested.

Treating Sod Webworms

Most store-bought insecticides are effective against sod webworms.  There are both sprayable and granular forms of insecticides available, however, for the most coverage, a sprayable option is ideal.

These insecticides are more effective on young larvae rather than mature larvae. Due to this, it’s important to identify lawn moths early. Once lawn moths become active flying around, eggs will hatch in about 7 to 14 days.

It’s best to water your lawn one to two days before spraying the insecticides and apply them in the evening time when sod webworms are most active.

Preventing Sod Webworms

The best prevention method against sod webworms is to maintain a healthy lawn.

Like most lawn pests, an unhealthy weakened lawn will be the prime target for the majority of these pests. If your lawn is unhealthy, think of it as defenseless against a whole host of unwanted invaders. 

To obtain a healthy lawn it is vital to routinely fertilize, aerate, and properly mow your lawn. Maintaining a mowing height of three to four inches is imperative to ward off sod worms.

If your grass is too short this can cause lawn scalping, which will dry out your lawn and make it easier for lawn pests to attack.

Sod Webworms vs Army Worms

If you suspect a worm problem but have ruled out sod webworms, a different offender could be to blame. A worm that is similar to sod webworms but has some slight differences is the armyworm.

Armyworms are another form of the lawn moth. They are typically larger in size compared to the sod worm.

The armyworm gained its name since they commonly are seen in large numbers moving across the lawn together like an army.

Just like sod worms, armyworms have the potential to cause the same type of lawn damage.

One major difference is that armyworms feed during the day and night and leave behind a white appearance on the lawn. The same prevention and treatment methods apply to armyworms as to sod webworms.

Call the Professionals at Gecko Green

Dealing with any type of lawn invader or infestation can be very overwhelming.

If you suspect these pesky worms have taken over your lawn it’s best to call the professionals.

At Gecko Green our pest control services are superb. We will conduct a thorough inspection of your property and provide you with a personalized treatment plan.

Our goal at Gecko Green is to protect your house from pests and get your lawn looking amazing. Call Gecko Green today and say goodbye to sod worms and armyworms for good.

Call for a free quote today!