How To Get Rid Of Grubs In Your Lawn Or Garden: Additional Resources
If getting rid of grubs naturally is not working or you simply want to start with stronger pesticides, it is important to understand the potential effects on groundwater, bees, other wildlife, your pets and your family.
To better understand how the use of grub control products can affect bees and other pollinators, we recommend reading Grub Control in Lawns: Neonicotinoids and Bees published by the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
For best practices in effectively using pesticides that target grubs, we recommend reading How to Choose and When to Apply Grub Control Products to Your Lawn published by Michigan State University Extension. This article also includes a section on protecting bees and other pollinators when using potentially harmful pesticides.
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How Bad Are Grubs For The Lawn
Grubs, which are the larval, or immature, stage of several species of beetles and chafers, can damage a lawn by feeding on the roots of your grass. Healthier grass can tolerate more grub feeding, and all grass can tolerate some grub feeding.
A grub infestation will cause patches of thinning turf, and these patches will gradually increase in size. Often times grub damaged grass will pull out very easily at the roots.
What we often hear from homeowners is that they believe they have grubs because animals like moles, skunks, crows and racoons are digging in the lawn. This isnt a reliable clue, however, because grub infestations arent always accompanied by animal damage and animal damage doesnt always result from a grub infestation. These animals feed on other insects in the lawn, like earthworms, which are beneficial to the health of the lawn. That all said, if you do have grubs and animals are digging for them in the lawn, that can be detrimental to the health of your turf and to the appearance of your yard.
Adhere To Good Lawn Care Practices
Good lawn care practices are the best way to prevent Chafer Grub invasions. Just a few simple tweaks in how you do things can vastly reduce the chances of an infestation.
Cut the Grass Longer than You Normally Would
We all like bowling green lawns but the fact is, beetles dont like long grass.
Cut the grass regularly but keep the mowing height a little higher than you normally would during the summer months when beetles are actively looking for somewhere to lay their eggs.
Keeping the grass relatively high during the summer is good practice anyway as it improves drought tolerance.
Keep Your Lawn Aerated
Chafer Beetles prefer to lay their eggs in more compacted soil.
By keeping your lawn aerated you keep the soil relaxed which isnt as preferable to the beetles.
Also, get a pair of aerating sandals. Tread your lawn with them once a week during the months of March, April and May, then in September and October.
This is when the Grubs are closest to the surface. By treading your lawn once a week with these sandals you can effectively control the numbers of grubs by killing them with the spikes on the sandals.
Apply Ferrous Sulphate in the Summer
Ferrous Sulphate isnt just a moss killer.
It can be used to keep your lawn fertilised during the dry summer months. Not only does it give your grass a nice green boost in the summer when it doesnt look its best, it also raises the acidity of the soil.
And Chafer Beetles dont like acidic soil!
Dont Over Water
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Can I Use Detergent To Kill Lawn Grubs
Yes, you can! Detergent has the advantage of being cheap and readily accessible.
Laundry detergent can kill grubs if you apply it all over your lawn.
A side benefit of using detergent is that it also adds phosphorous to the grass.
- Make sure your lawn is recently cut and short. This will allow the sprayed liquid to reach the ground and not sit on the grass.
- Get a sprayer with a long handle close to the ground like the one below. This will allow you to reach the ground.
- A mixture of lemon juice and detergent also works as a beetle repellant.
- Use 3 ounces lemon juice and 6 ounces liquid detergent
- Add a gallon of water
- Spray it in areas where grubs are known.
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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.
Apply Milky Spores And Nematodes
Two natural organisms can be very effective at controlling the larvae of Japanese beetles, although it can take several years to fully enjoy the benefits.
Milky spores are a natural live organism that is applied to the lawn. Once grubs become infected, they die within 7 to 21 days, and the organisms multiply and spread through the soil as the dead grubs decompose. Once established in the soil, milky spores can protect against Japanese beetles for more than 20 years. But it can take as long as 5 years in colder climates for the spores to become thoroughly established.
Nematodesare tiny microscopic worms found in the soil. Some types are harmful to plants, but the types commonly used for Japanese beetle control are ones that target beetle grubs. Nematodes can be killed by direct sunlight, so apply them on a cloudy day or as night is falling. Water them in, since this will assist their passage into the soil.
Both milky spores and nematodes can be applied at the same time. They make a very effective long-term solution to lawn grub and Japanese beetle problems.
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Use Water And Dish Soap
While this is a manual approach, it can be effective. Heres how to do it:
Fill a quart jar with water and a squirt of dish soap and hold it under the branches of plants where beetles are resting. Tap the branches. The beetles will fall into the jar and the dish soap will smother them.
Pros: Effective, kills beetles fast, non-toxic
Cons: Labor-intensive, may take a long time to kill all the beetles in your yard
Identifying Common Lawn Pests And The Damage They Cause
The best way to control lawn pests is to identify them correctly, get to know their life cycles and symptoms, and then treat them promptly and properly at optimal times.
Common signs that pests have invaded your turf include brown spots, dead and dying grass patches, wilting blades, bite marks on grass, and, of course, insects in the grass or turf layer. Signs of underground pest damage include thin or missing roots and holes in the soil.
The following pests can cause significant damage to your lawn:
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Treating A Lawn Grub Invasion
A chemical-free way to rid yourself of lawn grubs is to put a wet hessian bag over the affected area of your lawn. The grubs will attach themselves to the hessian overnight and you can then dispose of the grubs first thing in the morning. The more thorough method for you can use a chemical like Grub Killa. With the active ingredient Bifenthrin, this product is toxic to most insects but less toxic to birds and of minimal toxicity to mammals. This makes it safer than many other pest control products.
Treating tips when spraying for lawn grubs:
Best Treatment For African Black Beetles
For the control of African Black Beetle in lawns and turfed areas try Yates Baythroid Advanced Insect Killer for Lawns. Also controls Mole Crickets, Couch Mite, Ants, Armyworm, Cutworm, Webworm and the adult beetle stage of Billbug, Argentine Stem Weevil and Scarab.
See Curl Grub for the Best Treatment for Curl Grubs – the larval stage of the African Black Beetle.
When digging in the garden collect any larvae or adults and either feed to the birds or place pests into a bucket of soapy water. Drain off the excess water, place dead pests in a plastic bag and place into the rubbish bin.
If you have chickens or other fowl allow them to roam freely in and amongst the garden, lawn and turfed areas to feed on adults and first larval instar.
For large vegetable garden beds, allow beds to rest for a period, turning over the soil every now then exposing larvae and adults to predators such as birds.
For particularly infested beds, to prevent adults from laying eggs into the soil, plant crops in mid-summer to winter and to prevent adults from feeding, plant crops in winter. Alternatively, plant an overabundance of crops at any time of year.
Plant a wide variety of crops as pests often preferentially feed on some crops and not others – this will reduce the effects of monoculture.
To prevent plant death of ringbarked woody plants, slightly mound the soil over damaged stem or trunk.
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Preventive Insecticides That Will Prevent Grub Damage Next Fall And Following Spring
These products are used to prevent future grub problems, not to control the grubs present in the lawn in the spring. They will not work on grubs found in the lawn from the middle of October through the middle of May. However, when applied in June or July they provide excellent protection against the next generation of grubs. So, if you need to apply the preventive insecticide BEFORE the grubs are there, how do you know if you need to use an insecticide or not? If you confirmed grub damage the previous fall or spring, meaning you found lots of grubs, then you may want to use a preventive insecticide for one or two years to build a more dense turf that will be tolerant of grubs. If you have treated for several years and you do not see evidence of grubs in your lawn or in the neighbors lawn, it may be time to stop treating. There is an erroneous philosophy being perpetuated that because we have European chafers and Japanese beetles in the area, it is necessary to treat every year or your lawn will be damaged by grubs. This is not true.
In addition, grub control products that contain the active ingredient chlorantraniliprole are safe for bees, even when weed flowers are sprayed. Finally, avoid spray drift or granular spreader drift to flower beds when applying thiamethoxam, imidacloprid, clothianidin or any insecticide for grubs other than chlorantraniliprole
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How To Kill Lawn Grubs On An Organic Lawn
As gardeners become increasingly concerned about using traditional chemical-based pesticides, alternative pest control solutions are growing in popularity. This is largely due to increasing education and awareness about the harmful impact of chemical pesticides. Many chemical-based pesticides will only get rid of lawn grubs initially, which often leads to the pests returning time and again as they will develop a resistance to the chemicals.
You may have tried do-it-yourself grub-killing solutions to ensure a chemical-free method of pest control. Some DIY solutions call for a combination of household products like mouthwash, lemon juice, liquid dish soap and water to create a spray that can be applied all over your yard. However, this homemade solution only acts as a deterrent for grubs and is not an effective or immediate way to kill them.
To truly eliminate your pest problem, you will need to apply a treatment that eliminates the grubs completely, which gives you the space to be able to restore your lawns health. Better yet, a treatment that can be applied to grubs at any stage of their life cycle will be a better solution for year-round pest control.
Lawn Grubs: A Threat To Your Grass
What are Grub Worms
Lawn Grubs, often called White Grubs, are the immature form of different Scarab Beetles, such as Japanese Beetles, June “bugs” or the European Chafers. These white, C-shaped creatures have soft bodies with legs near the head. They feed on grass roots , causing sections of grass in the lawn to die. A white grub eventually turns into adult Beetles and emerge from soil to mate and lay eggs.
Most Scarab Beetles have a one-year life cycle June Beetles have a three-year cycle. Timing varies by Beetle species and region, but generally adults emerge from soil, mate, and lay eggs over the course of two to three weeks in early to midsummer.
Depending on soil moisture and temperature, eggs hatch about two weeks after being laid, in mid-to late summer. The new generation of root-munching pests begins feasting immediately after hatching. Peak feeding occurs in early fall. Typically, the pests operate a few inches below the soil surface, but burrow deeper before winter arrives.
Symptoms of Grub Feeding
As your lawn greens up in spring, keep an eye out for brown patches that never turn green. Those dead patches may be due to Grub feeding that occurred the previous fall.
What do grubs eat?
Irregularly-shaped dead patches appear in your well-irrigated lawn in late summer or early fall. Check your turf using the technique just mentioned.
Some Are Okay
Treatment: Timing Is Key
Helpful Tips to Prevent Grubs in Your Lawn
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How To Identify Black Beetles In A Lawn
You may begin to suspect your lawn is infested with black beetles if it begins to appear dry, straw-like and plagued by yellow patches.
A simple way to find out if your lawn is affected by black beetle is to grab a bucket of soapy water and pour it onto the grass. Any bugs, if present, will float to the surface. If you get more than 20 bugs, this could be an indication of a larger problem.
Another way to detect the presence of black beetles is to place a moistened square of carpet on top of the soil. After a day or so, any adult black beetles will have congregated underneath the carpet.
How To Kill Grub Worms If Theyre Already Present
You will want to fertilize your lawn with Safer® Brand Lawn Restore® Fertilizer to keep it thick and healthy, and also be sure youre mowing your grass down to a minimum of two inches in height beetles prefer to lay their eggs in thin, sparse grass. It will be necessary to implement an infrequent watering schedule, too. When you do water your lawn, though, make sure to water it deeply to promote deeper and stronger growth of grass roots.
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How To Kill And Protect Against Asian Lady Beetles
Many invasive insect pests came to the United States by accident, often arriving in product shipments from faraway lands. But Asian lady beetles, also known as multicolored Asian lady beetles and harlequin ladybirds, were intentionally introduced to eat insect pests. Now found throughout the country, these insects threaten native ladybugs1 and invade homes in fall. By understanding these pests and their invasive nature, you can get rid of Asian lady beetles and protect your home.