When we install new turfgrass, we always want it to be healthy and thrive. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that work against it. Even things as simple as the shade can make it difficult for our grass. Pests are another threat and that includes Sod Webworms. Fortunately, some varieties of grass are more resistant to this threat than others.
What are Sod Webworms?
The University of Nebraska describes it this way: “The sod webworm complex (Family Pyralidae) is a large group of insects consisting of over 20 species that infest turfgrasses in the United States. Among the more important turfgrass-infesting species are those belonging to the genus Crambus.”
To be more specific, the Sod Webworm has different stages, and those stages determine how much of a threat they are. The University of Florida tells us that the first four larval states feed on the upper surface of grass blades and that injury can be easily overlooked. When they enter the fifth and sixth stages, the larvae chew off entire sections and the nightly damage is more noticeable. Consumers may notice yellow or brown patches of grass and ingress of weeds.
How to Control Sod Webworms
There are a number of chemical insecticides that can be used to control the larvae and the earlier that are applied, the better the results. Chemical insecticides are not recommended for use against them in the moth stages.
There are other practices that can help prevent this threat. Removing grass clippings after mowing can help, as well as proper irrigation. One of the leading causes of outbreaks is excessive fertilizing of turfgrass.
When Are They a Threat?
If you are in southern Florida, the answer is simple: year-round. The numbers are significantly higher from September to November. There is a decline until March and then they increase, but there is never really a time where the threat is not present. Northern Florida (Gainesville and north) sees a peak in the fall months as well, but the colder weather keeps them at bay during the winter months.
What Turfgrass Resists Sod Webworms?
Some varieties of turfgrass are more sod webworms than others. Citra Blue St. Augustine is one of those varieties. While St. Augustine grasses tend to be easy prey for the pest, this improved version of St. Augustine scores a 4 out of 5 in resistance to the webworm. It’s popular for its fast grow in rate and weed resistance as well.
Another variety that scores a 4 is Bahia Grass. This deep-rooted perennial can do well in a lot of different soil conditions and is often used in high-traffic areas.
Empire Zoysia scored a 5-star rating against sod webworms. This blue-green colored grass is both attractive and tough, making it popular for residential uses.
Another zoysia variety, Zorro Zoysia, also scores a 5. This is the #1 ranked zoysia in the United States and King Ranch Florida is proud to grow this strong, fine-bladed grass in our fields.
King Ranch Florida Turfgrass is a full-cycle operation. We not only grow and harvest our different varieties of grass, but we will deliver and install your new grass as well. King Ranch Florida Turfgrass is proud of the environmentally-conscious “best management practices” farming policies it has implemented throughout its Florida operations. Contact us if you have questions about which variety of turfgrass will meet your needs.