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Grubs – How to identify lawn grubs, what do grubs do and how to kill grubs in your lawn.

“I’m getting confused on how to control grubs in my lawn. Can you help me here?” -Sure can! Here’s our tip sheet on Grub Control in the yard to help you identify some common questions about grubs:. What are grubs? What do Grubs do? How do I know if I have Grubs? How do I control Grubs?

• What are Grubs? – Grubs are the C-shaped larvae of a group of beetles, typically found just below the soil’s surface. Japanese Beetles, May or June Beetles, Masked Chafers, Asiatic Garden Beetles, are examples of beetles in this group. Although each has it’s own characteristics, grubs have stout, grayish to white C shaped bodies with brown heads, ranging in size from 3/8 to 1 inch long. C shaped grubs is one of the stages of the beetle lifecycle [eggs (typically laid in the summer months), larvae (the C shaped grub – late summer thru spring), pupae (stage just before emerging from the ground into an adult – spring thru early summer), and the adult – late spring thru summer].

•What do Grubs do? – Grubs eat organic matter including the roots of plants (especially turf – typically not a major problem for other plants). They will feed from mid summer until cooler weather forces them to move deeper into the soil for the winter. During the spring, they move back to the upper soil, lightly feeding before pupating and emerging from the soil as an adult beetle.

How do I know if I have Grubs? – Grub damage to the turf first appears to be drought stress, as the turf appears off color, wilts in the sun, thins out, and eventually begins dieing in large patches. The turf can feel spongy and in many cases be rolled back like loose carpet. This typically occurs late summer and early fall. (Grub damage in the spring is generally less, due to lighter feeding, and the turf vigorously growing to mask over grub damage.) You can check for grubs by pealing back the turf and taking a look. Remember that populations of 6 – 10 (or so) grubs per square foot in a healthy lawn typically will not show any grub damage. Higher populations may require treatment. Note: Low grub populations may not show observable turf damages, but predatory animals such as flocks of blackbirds, or skunks, raccoons, opossums, and moles may find your turf attractive if grubs are present. (Although they also feed on many other soil insects, including earthworms. Do not treat for grubs if you have moles. Only treat for grubs if grubs are a problem to your turf.)

• How do I control Grubs?
– Cultural Controls: The first step is to maintain a healthy lawn. A healthy lawn means fewer weeds, less disease, and fewer insect problems. Consider using turf type tall fescues, as they show a higher tolerance of grubs than Ky. Bluegrasses orperennial ryes. Only irrigate the lawn during the early summer as needed (thorough deep soaking, then dry out before watering again); high moisture levels are important for beetles laying eggs as well as egg development.

-Chemical Controls: Preventative controls means theinsecticide is applied as insurance before potential grub problems develop. These products are applied one time to the turf, anytime mid May through July, last all season, and are there to stop grubs in the early stages (egg and newly hatched) before damages can occur. These products include: BONIDE’S GRUB BEATER, SCOTT’S GRUB EX or BAYER’S ADVANCED LAWN SEASON-LONG GRUB CONTROL.

-Curative Controls: are applied late summer (after the eggs have hatched and grubs are present), and have a short residual effect. These products include: DYLOX. *Always read and follow the label / directions on each recommended product before use. Actual grub control will vary due to timing, soils, moisture, thatch, and other environmental factors. Remember, there is never 100% grub control. [Resources include Ohio State University Extension / UK Extension Services]

About Ron: Ron Wilson hosts “In the Garden” on WKRC from Cincinnati Ohio and XM Channel 165 from 6-9a.m. Saturday mornings. He has a degree from The Ohio State University in Landscape Horticulture. He’s also the Marketing Manager forNatorp’s Garden Stores, Landscape Nursery. And, a Personal Yardboy!

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