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How To Treat Grubs In Your Lawn

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How To Treat For Lawn Grubs

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Do I Have A Lawn Grub Problem

Lawn grubs can be present in your lawn but cause absolutely no problems. But how do you know if you have a real lawn grub problem?

Since grubs eat grass roots, the lawn will be easy to pull up in chunks. If its still firmly rooted, then you have another problem, such as brown patch or dog urine damage. Heres a good test, from the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Pull up about 1 square foot of the earth around the base of your sod . If you notice more than 6 grubs in this space, its a good time to consider preventive methods or treatments to reduce overpopulation.

Shetlar, however, recommended that lawn lovers should be even more vigilant, especially in order to prevent large critters from eating them. When talking about the maximum threshold of tolerance for grubs, I always chuckle about , in that skunks and raccoons havent read about this threshold.

As such, it may be worthwhile for homeowners to be just a little warier on account of skunks and raccoons. Shetlar added, If there are four to five grubs per square foot, thats usually enough for them to be digging around.

Can You Treat For Grubs In Early Spring

The key to controlling grubs is to kill them before they hatch and begin to cause damage to your lawn. In spring or early summer, apply a preventative grub control product, such as Scotts® GrubEx®1 to your lawn, following label directions. This is especially important if youve had problems with grubs in the past.

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What Are Grub Worms

They are essentially nothing more than small, wriggly larvae laid by adult beetles and hatching out as little white worms. In all life stages, theyre especially harmful to your garden and need to be dealt with as soon as possible.

They nibble on the roots of your plants and later in life, chew up the leaves of your crops.

Because of their damaging nature, its imperative to get rid of them from your garden as soon as theyre spotted. If not, youll be in for a rough time dealing with them as they mature.

How Do You Tell If Grubs Are Dying

Control And Treat Damaging Grubs On Your Lawn

To check if grubs are to blame for your dead patches, lift a piece of your turf. If Grubs are the culprit, the dead patch will roll up like a carpet, or youll be able to pull up the grass and see that it has no roots. Irregularly-shaped dead patches appear in your well-irrigated lawn in late summer or early fall.

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What Causes Grubs In Lawn

Grubs thrive in a lawn thats devoid of beneficial nematodes. Artificial fertilizers kill beneficial nematodes. Grubs are also attracted to wet lawns in the summer.

Grubs are not only ugly, but they also cause great damage to a lawn. You need to get rid of them as soon as you notice the early signs.

How do you identify grub presence in your lawn early? How to get rid of grubs naturally? Are there any pet-safe ways to achieve this?

I try to answer all such questions in this article. So, be with me till the end, and hopefully, you get what you came for.

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.

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Signs Of Grub Problems

There are several easy-to-spot signs that you may have grubs in your lawn:

Raccoons, skunks, armadillos, or birds are digging up your yard. These animals all love to dine on large, mature grubs.

You can pull back the dead patches on your lawn like pieces of loose carpet. This happens because grubs eat the roots holding the turf firmly in place on the soil.

Before the dead patches even appear, your lawn feels spongy when stepped on, as it it were freshly laid sod.

To check if you have a grub problem, peel back a square foot of green turf in each of several areas of your lawn. If you see 6 or more grubs in each area, it may be time for action.

Lawn Grubs Life Cycle

How to treat & prevent lawn grub infestation in your lawn

While there are variations depending on which species of beetle they come from, the larvae tend to be stout, white-to-grayish with brown heads, about 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches in length. These lawn pests tend to curl up in a C shape at rest.

The grubs get their start when the adult beetles lay eggs in your turf, usually in spring. After the eggs hatch, the grubs evolve in three stages, with grub damage greatest in late summer, when you will see areas of your lawn thinning and yellowing. Later, irregular brown patches appear in your turf.

There are two major white grub species that cause problems in Ohio. Thats the Japanese beetle and the masked chafer, said Shetlar about his home turf.

Japanese beetle grubs are widespread invasive insects, and their white grub larvae are bound to be found in lawns all over the country too, not just Ohio. Other chafer species besides the masked chafer beetles also lead to white grub infestations and can establish in lawns beyond the states borders.

Other types of common lawn grubs around the United States include the larvae of the May and June beetles, green June beetle and the black turfgrass ataenius.

Its irrelevant which species it is, advised Shetlar. They cause the same kind of damage.

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Why Did My Lawn Get Grubs

The grubs get their start when the adult beetles lay eggs in your turf, usually in spring. After the eggs hatch, the grubs evolve in three stages, with grub damage greatest in late summer, when you will see areas of your lawn thinning and yellowing. Later, irregular brown patches appear in your turf.

Controlling Lawn Grubs With The Best Grub Killer

Early fall marks a peak feeding time for Grubs as they fatten up before winter. Once soil temperatures drop, Grubs dig in, heading 4-8 inches below ground, where they’ll stay snug until spring. That means early fall before temperatures tumble is a key time to go after Grubs, and as a result you can help prevent some of the most common lawn problems before they start.

In spring, when Grubs emerge from soil, they don’t feed much, making spring Grub control less effective. Lawn damage you see in spring actually occurred the previous fall, which makes fall control even more important. Stop Grubs in autumn, and you can dramatically limit lawn damage. Try these grub killer tactics to curtail activity this fall.

Grub Killer Spikes

Spike sandals, typically sold for aerating lawns, don’t aerate very well. But a study by Colorado State University has shown that walking over Grub-infested lawns repeatedly while wearing the sandals is an effective grub killer that can cut Grub populations in half literally.

To control Grubs most effectively, water the lawn the day before you plan to spike it. Applying about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water will cause Grubs to move higher in soil, closer to the soil surface and your spikes. Watering will also help if the soil is dry by making it easier for spikes to penetrate.

Dethatching and Grub Prevention

Watering Tips

Overseeding Strategy

Keep a Clean Garden

Pesticides for Grub Control


Final Tips

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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 Do I Know If I Have A Problem

Grub Control: It

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.

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What Are Lawn Grubs

Lawn grubs are the wriggly, worm-like larvae of different types of beetles, like Japanese Beetles and June Bugs, that hatch in the spring and summer. These pests are roughly an inch long, curl up into a C-shape when disturbed, burrow into your lawn, and feed on your grassroots. In small quantities, theyre fine, but if large populations are left unchecked, they can do serious damage.

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.

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What Are Those White Grubs Eating Your Lawn

For months your lawn looked beautiful. It stayed green and lush throughout the spring and summer. Finally, you seem to have figured out the art of lawn care.

But then by autumn, it’s over.

One morning, you notice your lawn’s been dug up. It looks like it’s been through a horrible fight and lost miserably. You wonder why it tears so easily. And that’s when you see them.


But don’t despair. Despite the damage, not all is lost.

There are ways to control grubs in your lawn and prevent future pest problems. Grub species exist across the United States. Some areas contain a majority of white grub species, while other regions contain only a few. However, no matter the type, all grubs can kill your lawn.

No lawn is 100% immune from grub activity. Almost every year grubs are present in lawns, but there aren’t enough located in one square foot to cause significant damage.

Grub Worm Prevention And Treatment

How to Control Grubs in Your Lawn |

The old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound ofcure. The absolute best way to treat grubs is to prevent an infestationfrom happening in the first place. If you treat for grub worms before they area problem, then you can spare your lawn and garden all the damage. Havingpreventive grub control applied in May or early June will protect your lawn allseason.

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How To Know If You Have Grubs

Damage to your lawn: Grub damage can resemble drought-stress, with yellow patches of dried turf showing up in your lawn. Severe damage from grubs can completely destroy the roots, allowing you to pull out clumps of grass with little resistance or even be able to ârollâ grass back from the topsoil. This level of damage will likely require treatment during the summer months.

Damage from other animals: One of the easiest ways to know if you have lawn grubs comes from signs of damage not from the grubs themselves, but from larger critters who dig up your lawn to find them. Common in Texas, armadillos are known lawn pests that will claw up divots in your lawn and flower beds looking for grubs. Skunks and raccoons have also been known to feast on grubs and will leave holes in your yard to prove it. Keeping a pest-free yard starts with controlling your grub population.

The One-Square-Foot Test: A gardening technique that some pest control experts rely on is known as the one-square-foot test. Pull up the grass from the roots within a single square foot to expose the soil. If more than 5-6 grubs are present, then treatment may be needed.

When And How To Treat

Chemical insecticides: Not all lawns need to be treated on an annual basis. However, if you have noticed any signs of damage to your lawn, the most common form of treatment is a chemical insecticide. Because grubs typically are dormant over the winter, springtime treatments are largely ineffective. Itâs best to wait until the grubs reach at least ½â in length for the insecticides to be effective.

Apply treatment during the heat of the summer . Itâs best to mow your lawn ahead of time, as well as water in at least ¼-½â the day prior. The moist soil will encourage the grubs to come to the surface for the treatment to be more effective.

Organic treatment: A biological option to chemical treatment is the application of nematodes. This tends to be a more expensive and often more difficult treatment option, with more experience needed in understanding the handling, shipment and application of nematodes.

Prevention: Even if you notice lawn grubs in the spring, the best course of action is prevention – removing thatch and aerating your lawn. Thatch is often the first location grubs are found as these larval insects feed on the decaying roots and plant material. Removing thatch is a great deterrent and preventive method for lawn grubs. If thatch has accumulated to the point of compacting your lawn, aeration may be the best course of action. We shared previously why aeration is important and when is the best time to aerate.

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How Do I Prevent Grubs In My Lawn

I always advise people to take preventative measures rather than treating them later. Below are some means to prevent grubs in the lawn.

  • Use beneficial nematodes along with Milky spore disease. This process may take a year or two but prevents further infections.
  • Do not use artificial fertilizers to feed your lawn as it kills the beneficial nematodes. Use only organic fertilizer.

Do You Need To Treat For Grubs

Controlling Grubs in Your Lawn

The key to controlling grubs is to kill them before they hatch and begin to cause damage to your lawn. In spring or early summer, apply a preventative grub control product, such as Scotts® GrubEx®1 to your lawn, following label directions. This is especially important if youve had problems with grubs in the past.

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How To Find Out If You Need Grub Control

There are some telltale signs that can indicate the presence of grubs in your lawn. Look for brown patches that dont turn green in the spring, as this is where grubs may have been feeding in the fall. In late summer and fall, another sign of grubs is dead patches in random shapes.

Animals like skunks, moles, birds, and raccoons can also damage your lawn by tearing into the grass to look for grubs. Another sign of grubs is spongy turf that easily lifts away to reveal damaged or nonexistent roots.

However, other lawn conditions can have similar signs. To confirm the presence of grubs and figure out if you need pest control, you will have to check the soil and look for them.

  • Make cuts on three sides of a patch of grass 6-12″ long and 3″ deep.
  • Peel the turf back, look for grubs, and count them.
  • Check several spots to get an estimate of how many grubs there are per square foot.
  • When you are done, make sure to replace the turf.

A healthy lawn can have as many as 5 grubs per square foot without problems. However, if you calculate 6 or more, then you may want to apply treatment to the most damaged areas, especially if there is a lot of animal activity. A grub rate of 10 or more per square foot likely means you have noticeable damage and need thorough treatment.

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