Your lawn is your social statement, your entertainment space and the place where your kids and pets play – let’s face it, it can take a beating. Meanwhile your turfgrass is trying to defend what’s rightfully his – its space and food, against all types of North Florida lawn pests like worms and caterpillars, chinch bugs, fungus and diseases, weeds and other lawn pests.

Because of the amount of rainfall we’ve experienced so far this summer, we can expect to see many lawn pests this August and into fall. We expect to see primarily the Tropical Sod Web Worm and Fall Web Worm. Unless proper lawn pest control measures are taken, North Florida worms and caterpillars can do extensive damage to your lawn and garden. We’ve compiled a list of the most common worms and caterpillars found in North Florida lawns throughout August.

Sod Web Worms

Sod Web Worm

  • Primarily affects: Bermuda grasses, newly established lawns, athletic fields, golf courses
  • Most destructive season: late summer and fall, damage large areas quickly
  • Feeding habits: night-time feeders, grass blades
  • Symptoms: ragged, brown patches in turfgrass usually noticed in the morning
  • Other info: larval stage of moth

 

fall armyworm

Fall Armyworm

  • Primarily affects: field corn, sweet corn and grasses; 80+ host plants
  • Most destructive: spring, summer, fall
  • Feeding habits: day-time feeders, grass blades and sometimes roots
  • Symptoms: damage is often scattered and not confined to patches
  • Other info: march side-by-side which is how they got their name. If you can pull back a square of grass easily and it rolls off like a carpet and the roots are cut, you could have an armyworm or grub infestation.

 

eastern-tent-caterpillar-lopc

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

  • Primarily affects: wild cherry, apple, crabapple, hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear and plum trees
  • Most destructive: late spring and early summer
  • Feeding habits: can defoliate an entire tree when numerous
  • Symptoms: tree defoliation, silken nests in trees
  • Other info: horse owners be aware!

 

oleander-caterpillar-flickr-cayobo

Oleander Caterpillar

  • Primarily affects: oleander plants
  • Most destructive: spring but can be seen mostly year-round (FL)
  • Feeding habits: openly feed on oleander shoots, can defoliate entire plant
  • Symptoms: small holes chewed between leaf veins on oleander plants
  • Other info: the hairs are not capable of stinging and won’t cause pain if handled

 

azalea-caterpillar-flickr-cayobo

Azalea Caterpillar

  • Primarily affects: azalea bushes, prefer indica azaleas
  • Most destructive: late summer to fall
  • Feeding habits: defoliate much of plant before detection
  • Symptoms: semi-skeletonized leaves dry up, turn brown and remain on the plan for several days
  • Other info: harmless to humans, can be picked off bushes by hands

 

grub worms

Grub Worms

  • Primarily affects: all turfgrasses
  • Most destructive: July to August
  • Feeding habits: roots of plants, flowers and grass
  • Symptoms: grass gradually thins and eventually dies. Grass feel soft and spongy. Scattered, irregular, brown patches of grass appear which increase in size over time.
  • Other info: Heavily infested grass pulls up easily. Grubs attract moles, raccoons, armadillos and birds

 

black-cutworm

Cutworm

  • Primarily affects: most vegetables, many grains, alfalfa, clover, cotton, rice, sorghum, strawberry, sugarbeet, tobacco
  • Most destructive: early spring
  • Feeding habits: night-time feeders, leaves at soil level and stems of young seedling and transplants
  • Symptoms: larva may cut several plants in a single night
  • Other info: remain below soil surface during day

 

Learn more about these lawn pests – worms & caterpillars
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2 thoughts on “Worms & Caterpillars – North Florida Lawn Pests You Can Expect in August

    1. For the Oleander Caterpillar it is best to apply a liquid insecticide labeled for that pest and plant. It is important to begin Oleander control as soon as you see the caterpillars on the leaves. Pick them off by hand (wearing garden gloves) because touching them can result in an itchy skin rash and then place them in a bucket of soapy water. We provide a lawn service to control this insect. If you would like us to help you with this please contact our office at 386-362-3887, ask for Maryanne in our Lawn and Ornamental Department – she will be glad to assist you.

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