Lawn Moths/Sod Webworms


By Rick Orr
A sod webworm curled up in a St Augustine lawn with sod webworm damage
Sod webworm are small green caterpillars that feed on grass leaves during the night and rest near the soil surface during the day

Lawn Moths Do No Damage

In our area, during summer months it is not uncommon to see the little white moths darting about a foot or two above the turf – especially in the shady areas and at night. Theses lawn moths do NO damage to your lawn – yes they are a nuisance but they do no damage to the lawn.

Lawn Moths Cannot be Controlled

The lawn moths are ubiquitous in Pinellas County. They live in ditches, roadsides, vacant lots, and the shady areas of your lawn. And they are very mobile, flying into your lawn from untreated areas. Treated areas of your lawn are quickly repopulated by lawn moths from untreated areas.

Lawn Moths Lay Eggs

The moths are laying eggs that hatch out into tiny caterpillars. These tiny caterpillars, called sod webworms, feed on the grass. According to Wikipedia: The Sod Webworm, ... is distributed practically worldwide, with approximately 100 species recognized in the United States alone. Sod webworms can defoliate an entire lawn (eat all the leaves) in one night.

Sod Webworms Damage but Rarely Kill a St Augustine Lawn

Sod webworms rarely destroy a lawn. Their damage is limited to the removal of leaves. Sod webworm damage often looks like an odd-shaped area was mowed. Once the sod webworms are eliminated, the lawn will quickly recover.

Sod Webworms are Easily Controlled

Since sod webworms are small and voracious feeders living at or near the soil surface, any good insecticide will kill sod webworms. The insecticides I use have an 8 - 12-week residual for sod webworms. You may see the lawn moths in great numbers, but relax their voracious leaf-eaters are dining on toxic turf - bad for Sod Webworms - Safe for Families and pets!

Timing is Everything

In rare cases, even with regular treatments, the sod webworm populations will reach damaging levels. The reason is a timing issue – the egg-laying, hatching and feeding webworm life cycle occurs 24/7 and can defeat even the best preventative methods. I am aware of this issue and currently, we use a blend of insecticides for quick knockdown and residual control. If you should notice a spot in the turf that seems like it has been mowed for you – call me and I will gladly treat interim for free.


Rick Orr Owner-Staff Agronomist Barefoot Grassl/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
Staff Agronomist at Barefoot Grass

Since 1995, Rick Orr has worked in Pinellas County providing turf management and pest control. Rick Orr is a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology) and the creator of 

Since graduating from VA Tech in 1979, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications in arboriculture, landscape, irrigation, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College. 

Currently, Rick is the Staff Agronomist at Barefoot Grass in Largo, FL. To learn more about Barefoot Grass Free Price Quote from Barefoot Grass for Home Pest Control and/or Lawn Care 

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