Grub worms, also known as “grubs,” “lawn grubs,” “white grubs,” and “turf grubs,” are lawn-damaging insects. In small amounts, they aren’t too much of an issue. However, an infestation of them can cause damage to a lawn and needs to be handled.
Grub worms are the larval stage of certain beetles. They appear as .25-1inch long, c-shaped, white insects with six legs near their head. They appear in late July and early August and cause lawn damage by eating the roots of grasses.
Grub worms can come from Japanese, May, June, and Oriental beetles and have little benefits outside of being used for reptile food or fish bait. Keep reading to learn more about these lawn pests.
What is a Grub Worm?
“Grub” is a term used for the larval stage of certain beetles. Grub worms are wrinkly, little white c-shaped bugs with soft bodies and legs near their heads that live in the soil and feed on the roots of grasses and other plants. They can measure anywhere between .25 and 1 inch, sometimes a little bit longer. They have a translucent exoskeleton, which means that sometimes it’s hard to tell what they are due to the fact their food can be seen through them.
They emerge from their eggs typically sometime in July, and will burrow into the soil in the autumn, where they will spend their entire winter to avoid the frost, and will reemerge in the spring and continue to eat the grass roots. After that, they enter their pupal stage. In late June and early July, they become beetles and the cycle starts over again.
Signs of Grub Worms
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if there are grub worms. It’s easiest to tell by irregularly shaped patches of brown grass in August. It can often be mistaken as drought-related damage in regions that are prone, but unlike drought-damage, the grass can be easily peeled away from the soil due to the fact the grubs have eaten all of their roots. Therefore, if there are suspicions of grub worms, tugging at the grass is an effective method.
Other obvious signs of grub-infested lawns are:
- Large flocks of birds
- Turned over, damaged patches of grass
- Unusually large numbers of moles
- Skunks and skunk-related damages
- Spongy feeling lawn
If a square foot of topsoil can be turned over easily or there are over more than six sighted grubs in a damaged space, it’s time to start the eradication process. However, prevention is always easier and more beneficial than trying to eradicate, so be sure to perform regular maintenance to keep them in check.
Prevention of Grub Worms
Beetles prefer to lay their eggs in short grass with heavily compacted soil. Keeping a well-maintained lawn is essential to preventing them from appearing. A healthy lawn can withstand minor infestations and out space any damages.
To help prevent a grub worm infestation, keep up with the following:
- Don’t cut grass shorter than 2 inches
- Water sparingly, but soak the ground. This encourages grass to grow strong, deep roots
- Aerate the ground
However, sometimes these bugs are going to appear regardless, or there is a new space which already had an infestation that needs to be handled. In these cases, start working on eradicating them.
Getting Rid of Grub Worms
Once there is a grub worm infestation, they can be hard to get rid of. First of all, start by establishing good preventative measures. Water the lawn well, though not enough for it to stay wet and soggy. After that, start aerating, fertilizing, and maintaining the grass. Then start working on getting rid of the bugs themselves.
The best natural remedies for getting rid of grubs is by introducing predatory species and getting them to do the work themselves.
Here are some natural remedies for the eradication of grubs:
- Tiny worms that live in the soil and prey on all species
- Milky spore
- A host grub is required
- Takes a few years to become established in the soil, but the effects can last roughly a decade.
- Encouraging birds
- Bird feeders with high-quality seed
- Birdbaths that are kept clean
Now. let’s take a look at chemical solutions.
If introducing other, predatory bugs, adding in chemical treatments is not advised as it will also kill those bugs. Timing is important, so start looking in late July and early August when they are first emerging and starting to feed as this is when they are most susceptible to treatments.
Chemical treatments will include the following ingredients:
Always carefully review the package instructions before application, otherwise there’s going to be more harm than good due to chemical burns, which will in turn invite a whole slew of other issues.
Synthetic fertilizers can also be used over organic. As the grubs eat the fertilized roots, it typically is toxic enough to kill them while also strengthening the grasses. In a worst-case scenario, calling in a professional to handle extremely large infestations might end up being more beneficial, convenient, and effective.
Grub worms are lawn-damaging insects that spring up in July and early August. Chances are, it will be hard to notice if there is much of an infestation at all due to the fact a well-maintained lawn is capable of countering them on its own. Preventing these bugs is as simple as keeping up with typical lawn maintenance. Their effect is going to be noticed first, as grass will become patchy, brown, and easy to pull up.
Keeping grass at 2 inches or higher will deter Japanese, May, June, and Oriental beetles from laying their eggs in the grass, and thus prevent the bugs from eating the roots. However, if they become a problem, introducing predators, treating with pesticides, or using synthetic fertilizers can help eradicate them.