Whenever small brown moths fly up as you mow, caterpillars are not far behind. The moths are there laying eggs and the caterpillars show up two to three weeks later.
Sod webworms eat leaf blades leaving a "notched" appearance Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County Extension
Young caterpillars chew notches along the edge of the leaves. This creates a ragged appearance that may be hard to notice at first. Mature caterpillars eat a lot before they pupate and consume patches of turfgrass down to the crown. Because the turf looks scalped so quickly, people think that the damage occurs “overnight.” Several caterpillar species can be turfgrass pests, including the tropical sod webworm, the fall armyworm, and the striped grass looper.
Caterpillars can sometimes be seen, along with their frass, just on the surface of the soil Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County Extension
For more information on lawn caterpillars and your control options, visit the University of Florida “Lawn Caterpillars” online publication at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN608 or call your local Extension Agent.