Grubs, the larval form of damaging scarab beetles like June bugs and Japanese beetles, can be a big problem for you and your beautiful lawn. Feeding on your grass’ roots from underground, grubs can cause thousands in damage before you even know they’re in your yard. To make matters worse, once they emerge as fully grown beetles, they’ll continue to tear up your lawn, damaging nearly all plant life they encounter. In only a few short months the beetles will again lay more grub eggs, starting the whole horrible cycle all over again.
Worried you might have grubs or could in the future? Currently struggling with an ongoing grub problem and not sure what to do? We have your back. Below you’ll learn how to identify, prevent, and get rid of grubs without exposing your family or pets to poisonous pesticides.
Not sure if you have a grub problem? Look out for the following signs and symptoms:
- Brown patches of grass
- Spongy, unhealthy spots of grass
- Brittle turf that can be easily pulled from the soil, essentially grass without roots
- Unusually high and sudden wildlife activity, such as birds, reptiles, skunks, and raccoons digging at your lawn.
- Small holes throughout your lawn, usually a sign that animals have been feeding on grubs.
We’ll save you the suspense—your lawn has grubs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a grub problem. Moderate population sizes are normal and rarely if ever cause much of an issue. In general, 4 or less grubs per square foot is just fine. However, having 5 or more indicates a surging grub population that could cause significant damage and cost you hundreds in the long run. Here’s how to check:
Approach one of the brown, dying patches of turf in your lawn and dig up a square foot of sod about 3 inches deep. Closely inspect the soil looking for white or off-white C-shaved larvae—these are your grubs. The best and easiest time to check for grubs is late summer and early fall. This is when grubs tend to be most active and closest to the surface of your lawn. If you find 5 or more, you need to act fast before things get worse
Natural, effective, and economical, beneficial nematodes are a popular gardening tool for a reason. Once they’ve taken hold in your lawn, these microscopic, parasitic worms attack grubs, killing them from the inside out.
Because they’re alive and need to remain so to work, make sure to buy your nematodes from a legitimate dealer like your local garden shop, and water your lawn soon after applying them. This approach can take a season or more to be fully effective, so practice additional grub control methods in the meantime. Note: Using traditional, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers can kill nematodes, negating their pest control effect.
Lasting upwards of 20 years, a dose of milky spore introduced into your lawn can often solve grub issues outright. While it can take around 3 years for the bacterium to totally eradicate ongoing grub problems, the investment is well worth your time.
Note: Using traditional, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers can kill milky spore bacteria, negating their pest control effect.
Feeding on both grubs, their adult beetle form, and countless other unwanted bugs, birds are arguably nature’s most efficient pest control tool. Attracting them is usually as simple as adding a few baths and/or feeders to your yard. You should notice a drop in your grub and beetle populations almost immediately.
Adult grub beetles tend to avoid laying their eggs in longer, healthier grass. Simply keeping your grass to no less than 2 inches long during the fall, spring, and late summer can dramatically decrease and in many cases prevent grub problems.
Additionally, healthy lawns are overall far less vulnerable to grub and other pest problems compared to those in poor shape. Seeding and fertilizing patchy or otherwise damaged areas of your lawn during both spring and summer is another simple but effective way to deter grubs. For best results, avoid synthetic fertilizers and practice natural pest prevention. Don’t worry, our Lawn & Garden Kit has you covered in the bug department.
Overly wet or consistently moist lawns are known to foster larger, more damaging grub populations. To avoid this costly scenario, water your lawn as little as possible through July, August, and the latter parts of June. Doing this will help dehydrate and kill any grub eggs buried in your yard, dramatically reducing how many grubs you’ll experience the following year.
We know it’s not easy to avoid watering your lawn as often during the warmer months, but so long as your grass is in good shape, it should bounce back to full health as soon as you begin watering again.