Lawn Grubs

Grub out Lawn Grubs

Announcement: Lawn Grubs





The Problem With lawn grubs

Though many people have the motto live and let live that they apply to their daily lives, this may not be an option when it comes to lawn grubs. Lawn grubs are actually the larvae of various beetles and while a few grubs will not hurt your lawn a large infestation may cause serious damage leaving your lawn looking disease ridden with dead and wilting grass and major brown spots.



How Lawn Grubs Damage You Lawn

Lawn grubs damage your lawn by eating the root of you grass causing the grass to weaken and eventually die. Some types of grubs also tunnel which furthers weakens the grass and can even damage other plants as well. Worse they can bring all sorts of other unwanted pests into your yard. These pest eat the grubs and in doing so further cause damage to your grass by tunneling, or digging for the grubs that live just below the surface of the grass. Moles, raccoons, skunks, and various birds are just a lawn damaging animals that an over population of grubs can invite into your yard. So, how do you know if you have a grub problem and what do you do about it?



Detecting A Lawn Grub Problem

Most people are not even aware they have a grub problem until late summer when their grass begins showing brown spots for no apparent reason. At this stage fighting those grubs is sometimes difficult and often results in having to replant grass in those brown spots of you lawn. Chances are if you have had grub problems in the past you have the problem again as beetles lay their eggs in certain types of soil conditions.

The best way to check for grubs is to find a sunny place in your yard and pull back a small patch of lawn. You can do this by cutting the grass in a patch with a shovel on three sides then lifting the sod. If there is a group of grubs hiding under the grass you have a problem and the only way to solve the problem is by treating your lawn and killing the grubs.


How and When To Treat You Lawn For Grubs

There are several kinds of chemical insecticides you can use to rid your yard of your grub problem. However, keep in mind that chemicals may harm your family, pets, and the environment. The best treatment for lawn grubs is to use organic predatory nematodes, which are a type of worm that survives in the wild and will eventually kill the grubs. Early fall is the best time to treat your lawn for grubs as the grubs are near the lawns surface still feeding. Making sure to follow the directions for the use of the nematode compound will help to ensure you are successful in your war against grubs.


Prevention Is Best

Of course preventing the infestation of the grubs in the first place is always the best course of action and the best way to do that is by caring for your yard properly. Avoid planting plants that are particular favorites of beetles and grubs such as baby breath will help as will keeping your lawn properly mowed. When it comes to watering deep watering periodically is better than daily misting as the grubs like moist soil. When your soil is allowed to become dry between watering it helps to make for an unfriendly environment for the grubs to survive in.   


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American Lawngrubs



There are a number species that may infest American yards. These include May & June Beetles, Northern & Southern Masked Chafers, Bluegrass & Denver Billbugs,  Japanese Beetles and White Grubs. We will have a look at all these pests and show you when to be aware of the most likely time of year that each species will be more prominent in your grass.



May and June Beetles.



June Beetle picture taken by pizzodisevo.

As the name suggests the adult beetles will show up in around May and june and then start to lay their eggs in your grass. The new grubs re not usually such a problem unless there is a large concentration of them. Even then, if your grass is in excellent condition it may withstand an attack without showing too much stress in the form of bare patches. Be warned though that large infestations may bring predators that can dig up your grass to feed on the grubs. The worst time for these species is in the second year of their three year life cycle when they are much larger and just a few grubs per square foot can cause visible damage to the lawn. Between feeding seasons they will dig down below the layer that frost will get to in order to stay alive.


Japanese Beetle


Adult Japanese Beetle – Photo by abbydonkrafts

Unfortunately Japanese Beetles can be a problem in the adult phase as well as when a grub and so we should be particularly alert for them as they will eat flowers and leaves of  crabapple, rose, grapes, beans and other plants grown in our yards. Traps for the adults are thought generally only to be really recommended for showing how bad the problem is. These pests having quite noticeable metallic and bright coloration will lay their eggs in mid to late May with the bulk of them being laid before the end of July. You may be fortunate if you have a dry spell as the young larvae are not very tolerant of soil that is dry. Insecticides are probably best used in early summer when the eggs begin to hatch.




Masked Chafers


Picture by dendroica cerulea.

The adult beetles fly n and start laying eggs during june and can go on until mid to late August depending on your location. Once hatched the larvae will start to feed on the roots of your grass, continuing until there is a likelihood of frost with the worst damage occurring from late Summer into early Fall. Once again,location and weather will determine when the grubs stop feeding to go down below the likely depth frost will attain for the winter months. Should your grass be very healthy and vigorous, it will resist these grubs even in reasonably large numbers.



These animals are actually weevils and they can sometimes be seen when away from foliage on our driveways and sidewalks in Spring and Late Summer. The females will cut small holes in plant stems in order to lay their eggs inside. The grubs usually have a brown head with the rest of them being white or cream. The first real damage is caused by the younger grubs. They will grow to be a third to half an inch long. The affected grass is easily detached from the soil as the younger grubs will have attacked the area of the plant’s crown and killed it. The root area and lower crown are eaten by the older Billbug larvae. These grubs will often attack new sod lawns and are quite common in all new lawns. The infestations are often more severe near to protective areas such as evergreens. For best effect with insecticides it is recommended to apply in early May just prior to the adults laying their eggs. Spraying later will not do so much good as the young will be inside your plants and more difficult to get at. In some areas you may get better results by spraying for Denver Billbugs in early June and remember that spraying can often be more effective than more solid products. Sprays should be used when there is a greater chance that they will linger on the foliage longer and this usually means dry weather is forecast. There are natural predators such as hunting wasps, birds and even fungal diseases that will help but one of the better ones is the use of parasitic nematodes that can often be bought locally or may be sent by mail order companies.



There are a number of different insect species whose young are what we generally call lawn grubs. This means that there are different “best times’ to try and kill them off. Some species are best dealt with at the adult stage and others when the larvae are close to the surface of the lawn feeding. Neither chemicals nor introduced parasites will be very effective when the grubs are deeper in the soil because of the physical barrier caused by that dirt. Some chemicals will last longer than others depending on what they are and when they are applied. Nematodes just may outlast all chemicals as they will be carried by the dying grubs and can even live on in the soil waiting for another host to come along.

ALWAYS read and comply with the instructions for your chosen method of lawngrub control.


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Australian Lawn Grubs 2 – White Curl Grubs





White Curl Grub

lawn grubs such as White Curl Grubs, also known in some places as Cockchafers are the larvae of beetles that feed on the underground stems and roots of plants. These include the Argentine Scarab, Pruinose Scarab, African Black Beetle and some more species native to Australia. The damage they cause may not be too noticeable if the weather is damp and the infestation is not too severe. When the weather is dry, the damage is more likely to show and even lower numbers of these pests will cause worse damage because the plants they are feeding on will already be under stress and not so able to regenerate or withstand an attack. One way to see if your dried out died off lawn does have below ground feeding pests is to see if the grass moves at your touch. A law suffering drought will remain solid but one that has an infestation will slide and shift about where the attack has occurred.

White curl grubs are reasonably well protected by the soil as thy live underground. If you do see them, they can be recognised by the fact that they have three pairs of legs and tend to be shaped like the letter ‘C’. They can grow as long as 2.5cm just before they pupate. The adult beetle is a little smaller being in the region of 1.5cm in length. One way that grubs may be indicated is the behaviour of other animals. If you see meat eating birds such as wood duck, crows and magpies, as well as some other animals like bandicoots. Another method of detection is to put something damp on the grass over night. An old piece of carpet, sacking or something else that will retain moisture. In the morning you will find adult beetles hiding there. There numbers will give an indication of how many eggs have been laid and how serious the problem may be or get. These checks should be done between springtime and summer when egg laying is most likely to be going on.


Having located the pests, we will now move on to getting rid of them. There are some simple measure that may just help. One is to pour some biodegradable soapy water on to the affected area. The lava and beetles are then more likely to rise to the surface where they can be picked off by your garden birds or other grub and bug eating visitors. The beetles are attracted to light, so, turning off outdoor lights when not actually in use may just prevent some of them from coming to your garden.

Another method that is ecologically more sound is to introduce nematodes that are specifically targeted at the insects infecting your grass or crops. These entomopathogenic nematodes usually arrive in a dormant state and have to be moistened so as to reinvigorate them. Be aware though that just adding water will probably not be enough. The mixture will have to be stirred well enough to ensure that they nematodes are distributed equally thought the liquid. Another point to bear in mind is that the area you are going to treat should be doused prior to application. Once again this is to bring the nests closer to the surface so that the nematodes will not have to go so far to find them. One should also put the cure down as it is getting dark because the little helpers may be susceptible to bright sunlight. Once they are applied, the nematodes seek out their hosts and make their way inside through any available orifice. Once inside they disseminate bacteria that create the right conditions for themselves and the nematodes to reproduce until the grub dies. When that happens all the nematodes move away looking for another host to live off.

One can also use chemicals in order to control the numbers of insects. This method is best used on newly hatched grubs because as they get older, their body fat will help them to resist the treatment. Once again you should give the area to be treated a good watering to bring the pests closer to the surface and allow the chemicals easier access to them. Do not forget, if the grubs can not be reached, the cure will not work. Please read and comply  with all warnings and instructions as some of the chemicals authorised for lawn beetles in how lawns can be deadly to humans too. We suggest that you do read all the labels whilst in the store so that you will not buy something that will not suit your purposes, or even worse, do you harm.


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Know Your Enemy


Lawn grubs can significantly damage your lawn, and you may not notice significant damage until infestation is well underway. 

lawn grubs are generally white, and their bodies have a typical “C” shape to them. Grubs are larvae, and if left to mature, will eventually turn into beetles. The most common type of grub is the white grub, with the adult becoming a “chafer” beetle, tan in color. Another common type of grub is the May/June beetle. What’s notable about these two types of common grubs is that while the chafer beetle has a lifecycle of just one year, the May/June beetle has a cycle of three years.


Where they hatch and feed 

Grubs generally hatch on lawns that have been well watered, with eggs being laid on the soil in mid summer. The eggs will hatch and damage will occur beginning late midsummer, and may occur right up until early fall season.


Monitoring progress

 European chafer beetle has a lifecycle of just one year, while the June beetle has a three-year lifecycle. This may change how you want to manage them.


Noting damage

You’ll first note lawn grub damage by noticing that the grass will turn brown. It can be difficult to determine that this is actually lawn grub damage at first, because it looks much like many other things that can also occur at the same time of the year, such as short-term drought or drying of the soil.


Taking note of grubs’ stages of growth 

When first hatched, both June and chafer beetles are about 3 mm long, and can grow to sizes of between 2 and 4 cm at full larval stage growth. Beginning about late May or early June for June beetles and June to mid July for European chafer beetles, the beetles will begin to lay their eggs. By mid-June, May or June beetles’ eggs have hatched, and the larva will begin to feed on organic material. This is also true of the European chafer beetles’ larvae.


This is where the differences begin to occur between the European chafer and June beetles, though. With the June beetle larvae, the larvae move below the frost line to spend the winter and then reemerge in the spring when warmer temperatures arrive. Upon reemerging, they continue to feed. The same thing happens in the second year, with larvae moving below frost line when cooler temperatures arrive. They pupate in their third year, in June, after they have fed for a short time upon reemerging in the spring.


It’s important to note that with the June beetle larvae especially, it’s entirely possible to have larvae at different stages of growth below your frost line at any given time; that means that when you treat this particular infestation, you have to make sure that all stages of larval and adult growth are treated.


With the European chafer beetle, it takes one year for the beetle to complete its lifecycle, meaning that it goes through all stages in one year. The larvae hatch as long as there’s moisture present in the root zone, and can stay feeding until November or December. They move below the frost line, and then go back to grass roots and began feeding in early spring; they pupate in May.


Treating for lawn grubs 

Sample for infestation in areas you suspect it’s occurring in late fall, and treat then. It would be most effective then, as opposed to spring or early summer treatment. Formulations for insecticide treatments change all the time as new products come out, so check to see which are the most effective on the market at the time of treatment.



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