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Check Your Lawn For Grubs

photo credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

It’s already that time of year when I remind you to check your lawn for grubs. These pests have been destroying lawns for decades. We can’t eliminate them but we can manage them with a little diligent observation.

During June and the first couple weeks in July, grubs in their adult stage have been flying around trying to find a mate. You may have seen…or heard them. They’re big, brown beetles with either an attraction to light or a very poor sense of direction. We usually become aware of them when they fly right at our windows, making a distinctive sound as they hit. There are usually enough of them that it sounds like a hail storm. If you’ve experienced this phenomenon, it’s a safe bet that you have grubs in your lawn, or soon will.

The beetles are either European chafers or Japanese beetles. After mating, the female lays eggs in the turf of your lawn. The immature stage is crescent-shaped white grubs. Upon emergence from the eggs, grubs immediately burrow into the root zone of your lawn and begin feasting on grass roots. They continue feeding until the soil surface temperatures go down and winter sets in. This is when they burrow deeper into the soil, where it’s warmer. In the spring, they rise back up to the root zone and continue their feast until they’re about two inches long. They then pupate, morph into adults and begin flying into your windows all over again.

The best time to wage war against grubs is in the fall. This is when they are small and weak and don’t require aggressive control measures. If you wait until next spring to control them, the grubs will be bigger, stronger and more resistant to control measures. And they will have had more time to destroy your lawn.

You can start looking for grubs now. You may not see them on your first try but keep at it. To check for grubs, cut several one-foot squares of sod from different areas of your lawn. A sharp knife is the only tool you’ll need. Roll the pieces of sod back and check both the bottom of the sod and the hole for little grubs that look like the picture. If you count six or fewer grubs in each square, you don’t have a big enough infestation to warrant treatment. If any of the squares has seven or more grubs, you should put the sod back in place and apply a treatment.

Treatment is an easy do it yourself job. You can buy granular grub control products at garden centers and home stores and spread them just as you would granulated fertilizer. Follow label directions. Don’t use more than the label directs on the false assumption that twice as much will be twice effective. Just the opposite is true. If this is a job you’d rather not do yourself, our lawn care professionals can diagnose whether you have a grub problem and, if you do, apply the most effective material at just the right strength. This service is part of our lawn care program but we also offer it to property owners who aren’t on a lawn care program.

One comment on “Check Your Lawn For Grubs

  1. We get so few (and they are less damaging sorts) that there is no need to worry about them. However, skunks dig into lawns to get the grubs out.

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