Grub Control for Lawns
Brown, dead patches of grass are tell-tale signs of lawn grubs. These pests live a few inches underground and feed on your turf's roots. Often grubs go unnoticed until the damage is done. Don't despair, though. Proper lawn maintenance, preventative measures and, if needed, pest control treatments, can make your lawn green again.
Lawn grubs are larvae of various beetle species, such as Japanese, June, Asiatic and Masked Chafer beetles. They're often called white grubs, because the larvae are white with a brown head. White grubs are characterized by a C-shape, grow to one-half inch to an inch long and have six legs.
Adult beetles lay their eggs a few inches below your lawn's surface in late spring. A few weeks later when the eggs hatch, the larvae start growing - and eating your lawn's roots. The damage can continue through the summer.
With autumn's cooling temperatures, grubs move deeper in the ground where they spend the winter. When spring arrives, grubs migrate toward the surface to begin feeding again on the grass. When adult beetles mate and lay even more eggs, the cycle starts again.
What to look for
Grubs live a few inches under the grass. They eat the turf's roots, causing brown or yellow dry patches. It's often said you can pull that grass back like a carpet. Grub damage also makes the lawn more likely to die during hot, dry spells. Additionally, you may notice grub-loving birds feeding on your lawn, or signs of gophers and moles.
Homeowners can be fooled, though, by grass that looks healthy. Infested areas can remain green even as grubs munch away at the roots. The damage appears the next spring when grub-infested areas don't green up.
Grubs often re-infest the same areas year-after-year. Some patches are more attractive to beetles than others. They like open areas with consistently warm, moist soil.
Prevention and treatment
Dig into the soil of one of the bare spots. If you discover small white C-shaped creatures, you have grubs.
If you find only a few grubs, adequate water and fertilizer can help the turf recover, then reseed or resod the affected areas. A few grubs per square foot aren't troublesome to an otherwise healthy lawn. Treatment typically is recommended when eight to 10 grubs per square foot are discovered.
Proper yard care can help prevent grubs. Reduce lawn stress by planting an appropriate turf grass variety for your growing conditions. Take into account the soil type, sun exposure, climate and lawn use. Ask a Southern States lawn expert for suggestions about grass seed varieties that are best suited for your lawn.
Mow and water regularly. Deep turf watering is preferable to daily watering. Allowing your lawn to dry out between waterings turns it into an unattractive environment for grubs.
Because grubs encompass different beetle species, pest control results vary based on the product. Some are designed for prevention, others for treating existing grubs. The application timing matters too. Some species are best treated at the adult stage; others when the larvae are feeding close to the lawn surface. Because of their underground habitat, aeration can be beneficial when used in conjunction with pest control.
When choosing a treatment method, ask your local Southern States dealer for advice on grub control products.
Share your experiences with grub prevention and treatment with others in the comments below.