University of California

Sod webworms and other lawn pests in California


Richard M. Bohart

Author Affiliations

Richard M. Bohart was Assistant Professor of Entomology and Assistant Entomologist in the Experiment Station.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 17(8):267-308. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v17n08p267. March 1947.

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After the summer of 1929, various publications began to record widespread damage to lawns and golf courses by certain species of the pyralid genus Crambus. In 1931, outbreaks of unprecedented magnitude occurred in many states, and the sod webworms, more popularly known as lawn moths, became recognized as major lawn pests.

In California, sod webworms have been reported as causing more or less severe injury every year since 1929. The damage to private lawns, parks, and golf greens cannot well be evaluated in money. Undoubtedly, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been expended in this state in controlling this pest and replacing the injured grass.

Lacking accurate information on lawn insects in California, pest-control operators have failed to agree on control practices. The author, accordingly, studied the subject from the fall of 1938 through 1941 in order to summarize the existing knowledge of such pests, present new biological data, and suggest practical means of control.

Economic History of Sod Webworms

The genus Crambus is practically world-wide in distribution and many of its species are recognized as agricultural pests. Crambus species have injured lawns and rice in Mauritius, pasture in Norway and England, sugar cane in Queensland, and rice in Brazil. In North America about 100 species are known, and some had attacked corn, oats, wheat, and pasture land as early as 1850. By 1895 the cranberry girdler, C. horiuellus (Hbn.) was a problem along the Atlantic seaboard. A few years later the corn root webworm, C. caliginosellus Clem. became a prominent pest. of tobacco. Although (Felt (1894))3 pointed out that the members of the genus Crambus are predominantly grass feeders, their injury to pasture received only an occasional comment till the publication of G. G. Ainslee’s studies beginning in 1917.

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Bohart R. 1947. Sod webworms and other lawn pests in California. Hilgardia 17(8):267-308. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v17n08p267
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