When Should You Treat Your Lawn For Grubs
If you spot the pests, do not start panicking. A healthy lawn should support a few grubs per square foot without notable damage. They actually help with aeration and loosening the soil both are good for the grass.
To know when you treat your lawn, use the following guidelines:
- 5 or fewer per square foot: No treatment needed.
- 6 to 9 grubs per square foot: If they are not causing visible damage and arent inviting unwanted wildlife, no treatment required.
- 10 grubs or more per square foot: Start considering treatment.
Master gardeners apply it in to control the grubs year-round.
Tip : Plant Deep Rooted Grasses
The best way I’ve found to prevent Grubs organically, without using any chemicals or products is to plant Turf Type Tall Fescue. This modern grass type works specifically well for individuals living in the Midwest. It has a really deep root system, and can get by with one deep watering every 7 days, even in periods of hot, dry weather. The Turf Type Tall Fescue, as found in our Tuff Turf Grass Seed, is also less likely to show signs of Grub Damage, because its roots are so extensive that a little feeding by Grubs doesn’t usually cause many problems. Shallow rooted grasses, like Creeping Bentgrass, show a lot of damage from Grubs because there are far less roots to help it survive.
Beneficial Nematodes Can Kill Other Soil Pests Too
By inoculating your garden soil with beneficial nematodes, youre likely killing several birds with one stone! And by birds, I mean pests. The strain of beneficial nematodes we use can effectively control many other pests including: cutworms, fungus gnats, fire ants, weevils, root maggots, flea larvae, crane flies, white grubs, and many more!
One study even showed that the beneficial nematodes also help reduce the population of root-knot nematodes in soil. We previously had an issue with root knot nematodes in our garden soil, and that has seemingly gone away with the grubs too! Other species of nematodes target different pests. For example, Steinernema carpocapsae Is great for organic flea control. As discussed in our introduction to organic pest control series, it is always important to identify your garden pests before acting.
If you have a pet, dont fret! Beneficial nematodes are not harmful to anything except their target pest species. They will not harm mammals, aquatic life, birds, reptiles or amphibians. When applied correctly, beneficial nematodes should not negatively impact beneficial insects such as ladybugs, who have very different above-ground life cycles. They do not harm earthworms either!
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Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Grubs In Garden
Many gardeners have dealt with the irritation of finding grubs in the soil among their plants. These critters are voracious root-eating worms that turn into leaf-eating adult beetles .
Its not a pretty sight, seeing fat white worms crawling around, eating the roots of your crops, and damaging your lawn.
If youre reading this article, then its a good bet youre seeking natural, harmless ways of getting rid of grubs once and for all.
Fortunately for you, there are plenty of methods you can use to rid your garden of grub bugs without harming your plants, pets, or the useful insects you want to keep.
How Natural Predators Kill Lawn Grubs
Biological predators, like birds, raccoons, moles and more, are an option when it comes to grub control for lawns. You can choose to leave your soil exposed to welcome animals to devour the pests. For example, you can use bird feeders to attract birds to your yard to feast on the grubs. But do keep in mind, animals will dig holes in your lawn, which can cause further damage to your yard.
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How Do I Know If I Have A Problem
Affected areas will feel soft and spongy to walk on, and turf in these spots can be lifted up with ease. Carefully fold back the turf and note the number of grubs exposed. Eight to 10 grubs per square foot can damage a lawn.
Damage is most severe in the spring and fall when moisture levels in the soil are high. During drier periods, the eggs may be killed and surviving larvae can be found deeper in the soil. Extremely dry summers destroy many eggs and newly hatched grubs. Mature grubs can be found near the surface in late summer and early fall.
Often, skunks and other small mammals will pull back the turf to feed on grubs in the spring or fall. This secondary damage to your lawn, as well as flocks of starlings and blackbirds feeding on your lawn, are signs of a grub infestation. If you have any of these natural predators digging at your grass, check for white grubs. Many people notice these indicators first.
Water The Lawn Is Not Always Good
Lawn grub eggs have a dirty little secret, without enough water, they cannot hatch.
While its true that your lawn needs to be watered frequently during the hottest months and coincidentally the grub eggs hatch around the same time , you can circumvent this problem by changing your watering schedule.
See, your lawn is perfectly fine with getting a lot of water once, instead of you spanning your watering activities over several days.
If the eggs do not get frequent moisture, their chances of ever hatching will reduce significantly.
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How To Identify Lawn Grubs
If you suspect your lawn is infested with lawn grubs, here are a few signs to look out for to confirm your doubts.
Increased Bird Activity
One of the first signs that suggest you have lawn grubs is bird activity in your garden. Grubs make a delicious snack for some birds, and youll find them circling your lawn, looking for lunch.
As your turf recovers from the hot summer temperatures, watch out for brown patches, especially after the fall fertilizing. You can lift some of the turf in the affected area, and if it rolls up easily like a carpet, chances are your lawn is invaded by grubs. Grubs feed on roots therefore, they can weaken your turf and make it susceptible to lawn diseases.
Presence of Grubs in the Soil
Another clear sign of grub infestation is the presence of C-shaped and white worms in the soil. While a few of these harmful pests shouldnt worry you, a large number of them can destroy your beautiful lawn and cause severe damage.
Patches Of Brown Grass On Lawn
The damage that lawn grubs do to the grass root systems can cause irregular patches of thin, brown grass, which will eventually turn into larger brown patches throughout the yard. If caused by lawn grubs, these patches tend to appear during the late summer or early fall the lawn grubs enter their phase of most active feeding during this time, so this is when the damage caused to the grass is also more noticeable. While patches of brown grass may be an indication of lawn grubs, there are a number of other potential causes such as drought or diseases like brown patch fungus. Follow the method in the next section to determine whether grubs are causing the brown patches in your lawn before taking any preventative measures against them.
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Should I Apply Grubex Before Rain
A very important tip is to water the grub control in within a few days. You can wait for a good rain heading your way, and apply the grub control before the rain. Thats your only option if you have a lawn too big to water. So if you leave the chemical on your lawn and not watered in, it wont be effective.
Signs You Have Lawn Grubs
There are certain signs to watch for to know if youre faced with a grub problem. First of all, you may have noticed other wildlife being attracted to your lawn. This wildlife activity in your yard likely indicates you have a grub worm problem. Animals, such as raccoons, skunks and birds, enjoy grubs as a main part of their diet. If youre serving up an assortment of tasty lawn grubs, then these creatures are going to get digging which can also cause damage to your grass.
Secondly, you will notice dying patches of grass in your yard that are easy to pull up by hand. This is a clear indicator the roots of the grass have been destroyed as these patches are no longer thriving in the soil. You may have previously attributed dry, dying patches of grass to under-watering or environmental conditions. However, it is likely a grub problem, which is very common in North America.
Your natural inclination when you notice lawn damage caused by grubs might be to rip up the patches of grass that are browning and replace them with new lawn turf. This is, however, not the correct or sustainable solution. You can instead simply treat this area of lawn with a pest control treatment and begin your lawn care regime again. Once the grubs have been killed by the pest control solution, this will promote root growth in the grass, and it will begin to heal and regrow.
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How To Repair Grass Damaged By Lawn Grubs
Lawn grubs can cause extensive damage to what would otherwise be a healthy lawn full of grass, as the grubs destroy the grass by feeding on the grass roots. If your lawn has suffered from a moderate to severe lawn grub infestation, you will likely need to take some reparative measures in order to revive it back to health.
As some basic guidance towards repairing your lawn, you should follow these steps:
1. Rake over affected areas of lawn removing the loose and dead patches of grass
Still Got Grubs Dont Worry
While pesticides and natural methods can get rid of the majority of grubs, it is inevitable that some will remain.
If you find a grub here or there when working in your yard, dont stress too much. It is highly doubtful that you will ever be 100% grub free.
As long as there are no signs of problems, you can rest easy.
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How Many Nematodes Do You Need
Application rates for nematodes vary widely. Some people claim control with very low rates, and others recommend very high rates. One pack of 50 million of our nematodes will treat between 2,500 and 5,000 square feet. If you know you have a lot of Grubs, and you’re concerned about the damage, you’ll want to use the pack to cover 2,500 square feet. If you’re applying it preventatively, and haven’t had Grub problems in the past, one pack of 50 million will probably cover 5,000 square feet just fine.
How To Identify Them
So how do you know you have grubs? Your first signs are likely going to be problems with your grass and other plants. Odd patches of grass will start to die off and turn brown, without any apparent cause. If you do have a grub problem, the damaged grass should pull up easily since the grubs have been eating away the roots underneath.
Once you can see the dirt, you should have a clear view of any grubs. They dont burrow too deeply Depending on the specific species , theyll be an inch or so in length, cream-colored with a dark brown head, and usually curl up in a C shape when the sod is pulled off.
Another tip-off that you have a grub problem is the increased activity around your yard from raccoons, skunks or birds. These animals love to eat grubs, and will come in droves for the easy snacks. So finding patches of sod all torn up and dug through can mean you have grubs, even if theyre not the ones who directly did the damage.
For more specific species identification, it gets a little tougher. Well discuss the different kinds of grubs in the next section.
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Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Grubs
You can control grubs using a commercial grub killer or a homemade recipe such as dawn dish soap. If the infestation is not extensive, you can use some simple natural treatments. But how effective is dawn dish soap for grub control?
Dawn dish soap kills grubs in the lawn by smothering and suffocating them. To get rid of grubs using dish soap, mix 3 tablespoons of soap with 1 gallon of water and spray it on the infested lawn. The soapy liquid will also interfere with the exoskeleton of adult beetles and kill them.
Fixing Grubworm Lawn Damage
Dead patches make the lawn look ugly, but theres something you can do to fix them and restore your lawn to a lush green look. Grubs kill grass because they feed on the roots. If the damage is extensive, it may be difficult to attempt reviving the grass successfully.
If the damaged grass peels off the soil like carpet, then you want to consider removing the dead patches and planting new grass in the bare spots.
In general, here are options on what to do to repair the damage in your lawn:
- Rake over the dead grass to expose the soil and reseed the bare spots with new grass seed.
- If the bare spots are small and the turfgrass is not completely dead, overseed the lawn in early spring to early summer especially if it is Bermuda grass.
- Fill in the bare spots with sod if you do not want to wait for the turf to refill with new grass.
Keep in mind that before the damage occurs, it is best to prevent and control pests in your lawn. If you had any grubs in your turf last year, ensure you put down a grub killer and preventative treatment early spring to stop and prevent damage early enough.
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Animals Digging Up Yard
An increased presence of animals such as raccoons, moles, skunks, armadillos, and birds digging up the turf in your yard can be an indication that you have a lawn grub infestation even certain types of wasps flying low to the ground can be an indication of this. Take note that these animals enjoy eating earthworms and a number of other insects that live in soil, so an increase in animal activity doesnt always necessarily indicate that you have an infestation of grubs. Use the method outlined in the following section to determine whether you do actually have a grub problem before taking any preventative measures.
Are There Natural Treatments For Grub Infestations
The two natural products we are asked about most are milky spore and nematodes.
Milky spore is a bacterium that is effective for controlling Japanese beetle larvae, provided the spring soils are sufficiently warm. While the research on milky spore in our region hasnt been revisited recently, the latest research findings are that spring soils in Northern New England are too cold for milky spore to be effective. That said, there is anecdotal evidence that it has shown at least some efficacy in warmer micro-climates within southern New Hampshire. Milky spore may be worth a try if you are:
- Sure that the grubs in your lawn are the larvae of Japanese beetles
- In a warmer microclimate within southern New Hampshire
Keep in mind that milky spore will take several years to achieve good results.
Nematodes are microscopic worms, and some species of nematodes can work very well for controlling grubs in home lawns. To successfully use nematodes for grub control, you should keep the following principles in mind:
For home gardeners that do their homework and follow instructions carefully, nematodes can be a great natural option for controlling grubs.
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When Grubs Attack: Can This Lawn Be Saved
Q: I have substantial grub damage in my lawn. Is it too late for a grub-controlling application? Should I just wait till next year to treat the lawn?
Maureen Taylor, Chicago
A: Late summer and early fall is the time grub damage is most likely to show up in lawns. Grubs are the larval stage of beetles. The grubs feed on the roots of grasses so there will be wilting and browning of irregular-shaped areas. Skunks and raccoons will dig up the lawn while searching for the grubs. Carefully pull back the sod in any suspect areas and look for the white, c-shaped grubs just under the soil. Turf damage is likely when grub populations reach more than 10 to 12 per square foot of lawn.
Adult beetles generally lay their eggs in full-sun lawns that are moist in July. If your lawn has been irrigated and is surrounded by dry lawns and you see adult beetles flying about then there is a greater chance of having grub problems. Monitor lawns starting in mid-August continuing into September for signs of grubs. Damage from the grubs can continue into October. As temperatures cool in the fall the grubs tunnel down to overwinter. Make sure that grubs are the problem before applying any controls.
Lawns showing damage from grubs later in the season may be treated with an insecticide. Read and follow all label instructions. In my opinion, it is now too late in the season to treat for grubs so you’re better off waiting until next year.
Different Species Of Nematodes
If youve been around the garden block, youve likely heard of root-knot nematodes. Those are pest nematodes that infect and feed on the root system of plants . Those arent the good guys that we are talking about here. Just like Bt, there are different varieties or species of nematodes. That said, be sure to choose a beneficial nematode strain sold and known to specifically kill grubs in soil. When you look at the packaging, youll notice that it says it kills white grubs along with many other soil-dwelling pests!
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