Grubs are the small, white, worm-like larvae of some insects, particularly Japanese beetles, June beetles, and European chafer beetles. When grubs are growing, they eat grass roots, and this can lead to dead grass and brown patches on your lawn. To get rid of grubs, it’s important to determine what kind of grub you're dealing with, because this may affect your treatment plan.
Method One of Two:
Treating Grubs NaturallyEdit
1Look for signs of grubs. One of the major signs of a grub infestation is irregularly shaped brown patches of dead grass, but that can be caused by a number of different factors as well. If you think you may have grubs, look for other signs as well, including:
- Holes in your lawn caused by birds and mammals digging in the grass to get to the grubs
- Grass with no roots
- A spongy feeling when you touch or walk on the lawn
2Check for grubs. When you do find evidence of grubs, the next step is to search your lawn to inspect for the larvae. To do this, find a small spade or shovel and go to one or two of the dead patches of grass.
- Dig up square-foot (30 cm by 30 cm) portions of lawn where the dead grass meets the green grass
- Dig to a depth of about two inches (five cm)
- Look for C-shaped bugs with legs on the inside of the body near the head
- If you find these larvae, it means you have grubs
3Decide if you need to treat. Even if you find grubs in your lawn, it’s possible that you may not have to get rid of them, depending on how many there are. A few grubs aren't actually going to hurt your lawn or cause too much cosmetic damage, especially if your lawn is healthy.
- There is no need to take action to get rid of the grubs if you find fewer than five per square foot.
- If you find more than five but fewer than 10 grubs per square foot, you'll only need to treat your lawn if your grass isn't healthy.
- Regardless of the state of your lawn, you'll need to get rid of the grubs if you find more than 10 per square foot.
4Use beneficial nematodes to get rid of any type of grub. The scientific name for these is Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, and they are microscopic, parasitic worms that invade grubs and release bacteria that kill them. It’s important to note, however, that this is a long-term method, and it can take the worms up to three years to fully control your grub problem.
- For the best results, apply the beneficial nematodes in the late afternoon, and water the lawn immediately after applying them.
- Because beneficial nematodes need to invade the bodies of grubs in order to propagate, you must choose between using this method or using a chemical pesticide.
- These worms may be sold under the name Hb nematodes, and you can buy them through gardening stores, catalogues, and online.
5Use spores for Japanese beetle grubs. Bacillus popilliae is a bacterium that can be used to kill the larvae of Japanese beetles. Because it’s a spore, it comes in the form of a powder that you can sprinkle on your lawn to get rid of grubs. Like the worms, using Bacillus popilliae to get rid of grubs is a long-term solution, rather than a quick fix.
- To use Bacillus popilliae, you can spray it onto your lawn with water, or sprinkle the dry powder onto your grass.
- Like the beneficial nematodes, you'll have to choose between using Bacillus popilliae or chemical pesticides, because the spores won’t work without a grub population.
- A Japanese beetle grub can be distinguished from other grubs by the end of its body. Whereas most grub bodies end in a rounded stump, the Japanese beetle grub has a pointed end.
6Seed and fertilize your lawn in the fall. Beetles don’t tend to lay eggs in grass that’s long and thick. By seeding and fertilizing your lawn, you can repair any damage the grubs have done and deter new beetles from laying more eggs.
- In spring and fall, rake away dead grass from any brown patches. Water your lawn, then sprinkle new grass seed over any thin or dead areas.
- After reseeding, fertilize the lawn to help the dead patches regenerate and the new seeds to thrive.
7Let your lawn grow long. Because beetles don’t like long grass either for egg-laying, let your grass grow longer than you might otherwise once it starts to grow back.
- Keep your grass about two inches long. Raise the blades on your lawnmower to increase the length that it will cut the grass.
8Don’t overwater. An easy way to prevent your lawn from becoming a breeding ground for grubs is by letting it dry out or watering it as little as possible. Beetle eggs will die without water, so starving them of it will kill the eggs before they even hatch into grubs.
- Many grubs lay eggs in July, so it’s especially important to keep your lawn dry in July and August.
- Beetles will also avoid laying eggs in a dry lawn, so you should consider not watering your lawn in the last week of June as well.
Method Two of Two:
Treating Grubs With Synthetic PesticidesEdit
1Determine if a synthetic pesticide is necessary. Synthetic pesticides can be quite strong, dangerous to apply, and damaging to the environment. To ensure it’s necessary to treat your lawn at all, first determine if you have grubs, and then decide if the problem is big enough to require treatment.
- Look for indications that there are grubs in your lawn, such as holes, grass with no roots, browning patches, and patches that feel spongy.
- To determine for sure if you have grubs, dig up a square-foot (30 cm by 30 cm) patch of grass to a depth of two inches (five cm) and look for grubs.
- Don’t treat your lawn if there are fewer than five grubs, and avoid treating if your lawn is healthy and you find fewer than 10. If there are 10 or more grubs, treat your lawn.
2Try a synthetic pesticide for all grubs. When you’ve gone through and determined for certain that you have grubs and need to treat, you can use a curative pesticide that will kill grubs almost immediately. The two types of curative pesticides you can use are carbaryl and trichlorfon (sold under the brand name Dylox).
- Water your lawn both before and after applying the pesticide to ensure that the chemical sinks in to the soil to where the grubs are.
- Apply curative pesticides to your lawn in fall, spring, and before May.
- You can find these types of pesticides in home and hardware stores.
- Make sure you wear gloves, a protective mask, and other safety gear when applying pesticides.
3Apply a preventive insecticide for next year. There is another type of pesticide that can help control grubs, and it’s a preventive pesticide that’s meant to kill upcoming generations. Typically, this type of pesticide is applied in June or July, after you’ve already sprayed with a curative pesticide.
- To protect pollinators such as bees from the pesticide, mow your lawn to remove flowering weeds before applying the product.
- To stop your grass from burning, water your lawn thoroughly all summer after applying the insecticide.
- Preventive pesticides include those sold under the brand names Merit and Mach 2.
If I lay down turf over my grass, can the grubs break through it?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Yes, turf can be broken through by grubs. Most turf is made so, if you need to, you can dig through easily with something like a shovel. I think of grubs like mini shovels that can dig through almost everything, even most turf.
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- Adding herbs and other plants to your garden, such as rosemary, mint, garlic, marigold, and rue, may serve as natural deterrents to protect against pests like grubs.
- Nasturtium may attract certain types of beetles and grubs. If you want to include this plant, then keep it at the edge of your garden to keep these pests away from your other plants.
- Always read the labels and warnings carefully before applying a pesticide to your lawn. Follow the recommended doses and application techniques carefully.
- Wash your hands, face, and clothes immediately after applying pesticides. Do not eat, drink, or smoke during the application or until you’ve washed up.
- When using pesticides, be sure to wear all the personal protective equipment indicated by the manufacturer’s directions. This could include long pants and sleeves, gloves, protective eyewear, boots, and a respirator.
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Reader Success Stories
A"How to identify different kinds of grubs."
SR"Thanks for the advice! I just discovered I have grubs in my backyard and now I have several options for getting rid of them and during what season to use what to make treatment most effective."..." more
ER"It was very informational. Didn't know about the worms that ate the grubs. Letting my grass kinda dry out. "
CL"The information was thorough and informative."