PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA - Helpful information about Pinellas lawns & landscapes.

Snowbush Spanworms Eating the Foliage off Snowbush

Snowbush Spanworm Defolaiting Snowbush
Snowbush Spanworm can eat the leaves off a snowbush in one night

Snowbush Spanworm

Snowbush Spanworm is a small yellow and green caterpillar and it is eating the leaves off Snowbush plants in Pinellas County. One distinctive is the Snowbush Spanworm moves in an inch worm manner.

Complete Defoliation Leaving Nothing But Twigs

Snowbush Spanworm will completely defoliate a snowbush leaving nothing but sticks where a colorful bush once grew. When the foliage is all gone the Spanworm will turn to munching on the bark. The defoliating is often sub-lethal and mostly a cosmetic problem, however,  the “girdling” effect of the bark eating will kill terminal branches and sometimes the entire plant.

How to Know You Have Snowbush Spanworm

If you wake up one day and find nothing but sticks where your snowbush once stood, you most likely have Snowbush Spanworms. Look for the 1 - 1.5" worms clinging to twigs during the day. A vigorous shake of the Snowbush will send most them tumbling to the ground.

The Solution

The spanworm is easily controlled with available insecticides. The adult – the White Tip Black Moth is of no harm (other than laying eggs) and in a swarm can be attractive. Repeat application will be required to control multiple generations.

There Can Be Years Between Outbreaks

All of this is a cyclic phenomenon  - there were outbreaks in 2008 and 2017. Prior to 2006, it was rare to have any problems with snowbush in Pinellas County. The cyclic pattern could be  a natural population “bloom” of the spanworm and that there may be "quiet" periods of 8 to 10 years between outbreaks.

Pragmatic Approach to Snowbush Spanworm

The Snowbush Spanworm is often detected  after the plant has been defoliated. Damage done and treatment will only kill the lingering spanworms. The plant may recover. There are years between outbreaks and not all snowbushes come under attack. All this makes prevention more expensive than the replacement cost of the plant. If you can't stand to have your Snowbushes defoliated once every eight years, you should consider replacing with an alternative plant.


Article by Rick Orr
APL Lawn Spraying Inc.

Rick Orr is the creator of, an Agronomist and the Owner/Operator of APL Lawn Spraying. Rick is a graduate from VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology). He has been a Golf Course Superintendent, Certified Arborist, Landscape Contractor, Irrigation Contractor and Adjunct Professor for Environmental Horticulture.

Rick is an expert at growing St Augustine turf. Since 1995, Rick has spent his time researching, developing and testing the best management practices for St Augustine turf grown in Pinellas County.

The results of that work is a one of the top rated lawn spray companies in Pinellas County – APL Lawn Spraying. APL Lawn Spraying is a family owned business serving residential and commercial properties in Pinellas County, FL.

APL Lawn Spraying provides lawn spraying to commercial properties, HOA’s and single family homes. To request a free quote for your property, click here: Free Advice or Price Quote

Speaking Engagments - Does it seem like you are only hearing one side of water restrictions, fertilizer bans, plant restrictions and many other urban landscape hot topics? Rick Orr is available for speaking engagements for your HOA, Community or Professional Association or Garden Club about a variety of subjects. Call or email for more information.

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