Turf Talk
Our Turf Talk blog gives you the professional advice you need to care for your lawn.

There are a lot of little white moths flying out of my lawn. What are they up to and should I be concerned?

Most people refer to these moths as “paper moths” because they look like a light piece of paper blowing erratically in the wind. They are cause for some concern since these are sod webworm moths. As the moths flutter about, they drop eggs onto the lawn as they fly. Southern Manitoba can see as many as three generations of sod webworm beginning in early summer. These eggs will hatch and turn into the sod webworm larvae. Sod webworms are white in colour with an orange head. They are about half an inch long. They chew off the roots of the grass plants in a layer between the soil and the thatch. The first symptom of serious damage is the appearance of small, dead, fist sized patches. The lawn in these damaged areas peels up quite easily when gently tugged. Peeling back the turf, several sod webworms are likely to be seen. Keep the lawn well watered and avoid cutting until the sod webworm has been controlled. An insect control application should be performed by a professional lawn care service as soon as possible. Small damaged areas may fill in over several weeks but severely damaged areas may need to be replaced. Simply peel back the damaged turf and lay new pieces of sod over the exposed soil. Simply seeing paper moths over your lawn is not cause for immediate concern. The moths do not drop eggs full time. But it is an indication that you should keep a close eye on the lawn for signs of damage in the coming weeks. If you see them in the late summer or fall, keep an eye on the lawn early next summer. In most instances, sod web worm damage goes unnoticed. If the eggs are spread far apart, sod webworm numbers may not be sufficient to cause noticeable damage. A well cared for lawn may also be able to repair itself and re-tap damaged roots quickly enough to avoid damage.

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