Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Invasion of the Sod Webworms

This past Wednesday we had over a half of an inch of rain.  Hooray, we needed it and more.  After the rain I took the dogs for a walk and came across a rather bizarre sight.  For approximately one hundred feet on the road were these worms.

There were hundreds of these worms all over the road.  Where did they come from?  What are they?  Well, the second question is easier to answer-- my guess was a Sod Webworm so I conferred with a fellow Master Gardener who knows his 'bugs'.  Yes, Sod Webworm.  Thanks Vincent! 
With all these worms all over the road one would think there would be a lot of birds arriving for a big meal...but none were in sight.  A mystery.  Perhaps the worms are not tasty, have a toxin or something?  Time for research!  Since I live in South Carolina, the best place for information is the
Clemson web site.  The entomology department has a couple publications.  Best is the Insect Information Series.  Good information about the habits of the sod webworm.  They feed at night and if temperatures are moderate they will also feed during the day.  This webworm is the larval stage of the Sod Webworm Moth.  Photo courtesy Clemson publications and Purdue University Entomology Department. 

A sod webworm adult. Note the characteristic snout-like projection from the head.
Photo: Purdue University Entomology Department
The larvae feed on your turf lawns.  They can skeletonize it rather quickly.  Insecticide controls can be used according to the labels.   Bacillus thuringiensis is the first one recommended.  B.t. controls are the most effective on young larvae.  Wetting the lawn and applying late in the day is the recommended application. 

I know many are leery of using products on their lawn to eliminate insects, I understand that.  These are Extension recommendations for turf management.  After seeing so many of these worms all over the road I will be keeping my eyes open for infestation in my yard.  I tried to circle three of the worms in the road....there were webworms every 6 to 12 inches for the width of the road and for about one hundred feet.  Lucky for me right now, they were a good way down the road from my house. 
After reading about these worms, I hope the birds were just late to the game.  In my research you may see your first indication of newly emerged larvae if there are lots of birds feeding on 'something' in your yard.  I vote for Mother Nature to take care of this pest....hope she agrees.

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.


  1. Maybe those are on the meadow menu! Flocks of birds peck at our grass this time of year. Never knew what was going on out there--always assumed earthworms.

    We're getting much needed rain here.

  2. It will be scary to see too many worms around. Hopefully nature will balance things out.....

  3. Janet,
    From what I know about these worms is this. They are a favorite food of moles, bad news for the lawn. Get rid of the sod webworms get rid of the moles. Good luck and I hope they stay away.

  4. I went for a run this morning and noticed a lot of worms. Thankfully they were just earthworms fushed out by yesterdays rain, but I will be paying more attention now that I know what to look for.

  5. Yuck! That is a bad pest. Hopefully the birds will arrive soon.

  6. Anything brown and squirmy gets a thumbs down for me. Good for the local birds, though!

  7. Freda, maybe!! We have big flocks this time of year as well, hope they are after the sod webworms.

    Bangchik, it was kind of strange to see so many. I have seen earthworms after a rain, but never these. thanks for stopping by, long time no see.

    Randy, We have some mole activity in the back yard, I know moles like lots of different 'worms'. I hope these sod webworms stay away too.

    Gardening Under the Influence, yes, I have seen a lot of earthworms, this is new to me.

    Tina, hahah yes, yuck indeed.

    Rosey, thumbs down, yes.

  8. Hello Janet -
    I saw your Sod Webworms. It's amazing the differences in the insect population from region to region. I am unfamiliar with those critters and they appear kind of creepy.

    Here in east central New York State we have earthworms -sometimes called night crawlers. It's what we typically use on a fish hook. They do come out in droves when it rains. So do the frogs -and they always try and cross the road for some reason.

    The crows clean up the mess the next day.

    My compliments on your great looking blog. I, too, like trees. Every one is unique. I don't do much photography. You do a nice job with your camera.

    I'll check back soon to see what you're up to. BTW, have you moved yet? And been crowned in your new locale?

    If not, how about "Queen of All I Survey?" :)

    Dave from Home and Garden 911 dot com
    PS M. Doke is a pen name I use on another site. I used it here to sign into Blogger. Hope you don't mind.

  9. Monroe (dave), thanks! We have nightcrawlers too. I remember gathering them as a child for fishing. East New York? Where? Yes, we moved a year and half ago, should update my profile stuff. Queen of All I Survey is pretty good.

  10. Janet, how did I miss that you've moved to the Upstate? I'm newish to your site, but girl--we're practically neighbors! Welcome to the Upstate!

    Clemson Extension is such a fantastic resource. I'm the MG liaison for 12 school gardens in Greenville, and I often refer the teachers to the Extension site for great photos and relevant info on pests. It's interesting--even with all of the rain, I haven't seen the worms here (and I'm crossing my fingers that those nasty webworms stay away!)

    Look forward to reading more of your posts! Hope you enjoyed the respite from the rain today...


  11. Very interesting! Once in several years we have big number of caterpillars invading all trees around us. But those are hairy, and it happens in summer. I am glad they are far from your garden! Feed birds!

  12. It's nice to find a site you can trust.Visit Critterriddertexas.com this site was recommended by a friend so I tried it.They provide a Animal Control Texas, Rodent Control Austin, Bee Removal Austin and Wildlife Removal Austin at affordable price.Their service was great.

  13. Janet, please excuse my overly tired, mommy-addled brain! Somehow, I just didn't put two and two together...of course, I remember now! I would love to meet you. We will definitely need to plan a get-together and talk gardens, flowers, and all things spring-like soon. I look forward to it! Hope you are enjoying the sunshine today--I'm heading out to the greenhouses to started tomatoes and peppers today! Bliss! Have a lovely day!

  14. Julie, Extension service is a great resource. We were outside for a good while today, super day!

    Tatyana, I am calling the birds to stay in my yard for sure!!

    Critteridder, thanks

    Julie, no problem. :-)

  15. That blog post title sounds like a SciFi B-movie! An impressive influx - I'm tempted to say that this is yet another indicator that people should have fewer and smaller lawns but if the larvae can utterly destroy whole areas of grass then we'd better hope the birds wake up and smell the breakfast soon. Strange adaptation, to rely on something you then destroy for future generations. Or is it just the topgrowth that is eaten, and the grass regenerates from the roots?

  16. Janet, it does sound like a Sci-Fi movie title. We live in an area where there aren't many lawns, so maybe they were on the search for grass. I guess they eat the foliage and the roots will come back, though don't quote me on that.

  17. We are definitely dealing with the wrath of sod webworms here in Florida this time of year.


If you use "Anonymous" please sign your name so I know who you are...there is a lot of spam out there. Thanks for visiting today. The Queen would be pleased if you left a comment...... :-D thanks! I do respond to your comments, you can click on the email followup comments to have it in your inbox.

I am now moderating all comments. Too much spam is coming through. Sorry folks.