LSU Garden News: Those tiny moths you see are producing webworms that are killing your lawn | Home/Garden

Across the state, lawns are in trouble.

Sod webworms are the main culprit this year, said LSU AgCenter Extension specialist Ron Strahan.

“The numbers are biblical,” Strahan said. “We have observed nearly every house on a single street with damage in the lawn.”

The first sign that your lawn might have a problem are small moths that are light brown to dark brown with striping on the wings. They fly around as you walk through the grass or around outdoor lights at night. These moths lay eggs on grass blades.

Larvae hatch a week or so later, maturing into adult moths in three to five weeks. There can be two or more generations each year.

Larvae are amber in color but become greener as they feed on the blades of grass at night, causing damage to the lawn.

Another sign of sod webworms are yellowing and browning patches of dead lawn. Look at individual grass blades for a chewed appearance, with pieces of missing or chunks bitten out. The caterpillars are making a feast of your lawn.

Worm castings (caterpillar poop) in the ground are another clue. The castings, which are digested grass, appear as light beige pellets at the base of the plants just above the soil level.

In the early morning, when the dew is still on the ground, water droplets from the dew will be trapped in the webbing, and this is where sod webworms get their name. If you dig thoroughly in the soil, you can usually find a tiny caterpillar about ½- to 1-inch long.

Sod webworms seem to especially love St. Augustine grass.

If you see birds going into a feeding frenzy, pecking around in the grass, that’s usually an indicator sod webworm caterpillars are there.

Heavy infestations can lead to stress, causing your lawn to be more susceptible to fungal diseases such as gray leaf spot and to other insects such as chinch bugs and armyworms. A combination of these problems can lead to the death of turfgrass.

To help control sod webworms, use an insecticide with the active ingredient bifenthrin.

LSU AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown recommends liquid rather than granular applications for better control. You will need to retreat the lawn again in seven days to kill any newly hatched eggs. Spray will not control the moths. It is most effective on the main culprit doing the damage — the caterpillar.

Treat the infested areas and extend 3 to 4 feet past where you see browning. Moths will continue to lay eggs, so continue to monitor the lawn. Eggs hatch every seven days.

The cooler weather of fall will slow down the generation interval but not kill the worms already in the lawn. Last year’s mild and short winter is likely the cause of the large populations this summer.

The good news is that in most cases your grass will recover. Water your lawn during extended periods of drought that are especially common in October here to help the grass recover before

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LSU Garden News: Go for the pinks in plants for breast cancer awareness month | Home/Garden

October is all about pink in support of breast cancer awareness. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer. Men also can get it.

What does this have to do with gardening and why are we talking about it in September? Our landscapes are an extension of our homes and a statement to those around us.

Why not honor breast cancer patients and survivors by going pink in your flower beds and getting a head start this month? That way you can show your support and bring awareness to this devastating disease.

Luckily, when it comes to pink, we have many options from which to choose, including plants with pink foliage. Many Louisiana Super Plant selections come in shades of pink.

If you don’t want to make a long-term commitment, place plants in small containers or try planting annuals that can be changed out as the seasons turn. 

Both Amazon and Jolt dianthus are excellent Louisiana Super Plant selections for fall that come in an array of pinks. Amazon comes in Amazon Rose Magic and Amazon Neon Cherry, and Jolt comes in Cherry, Pink and Pink Magic. Ranging from delicate pink to hot pink, both can make quite a statement.

These plants have dark green foliage, perform best in full to part sun and are great for attracting butterflies in late fall and early spring. They make great cut flowers that you can share with friends or family members fighting the disease and to help celebrate survivors.

Do you want to go all-in and show your support? Make a big impact with another Louisiana Super Plant, the bright, prolific Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. This mighty petunia is known for its long-lasting bloom season. It spreads, growing up to 3 feet in all directions, with a height of 16 to 24 inches. It prefers full sun to produce the maximum amount of flowers.

If you want something more permanent, try shrubs. Three fall-blooming Louisiana Super Plants with pink flowers are Conversation Piece azalea, Aphrodite althea (rose of Sharon) and Luna hibiscus. All three make excellent shrubs for sunny areas in the lawn and will bloom in the fall, year after year.

Dream roses and Belinda’s Dream roses are both Louisiana Super Plant selections that produce pink blooms in the fall. Belinda’s Dream is another superb cut flower to share with family and friends.

Penny Mac hydrangea is also a Louisiana Super Plant. It’s a repeat-blooming hydrangea that can produce large flower clusters of pink or blue beginning in late spring and continuing to bloom on new growth into the summer and fall. To influence flower color, treat the soil around the bushes with lime and superphosphate in March and again in October each year. Your soil should be a pH of 7-8.5 to achieve the pink color. It may take years for the shift to pink to occur if your plant typically blooms blue.

Many warm-season flowers planted in late spring

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