Lawn Grubs: Treating & Preventing Pesky Larvae & Beetles

Are beetles swarming your lawn early summer? These bugs do more than just eat your plant’s leaves and annoy you while trying to enjoy the evening sunset on your deck.

Beetles can lay eggs in your grass, which hatch into hungry grubs and destroy your turf from the ground up.

Let’s learn a little about lawn grubs: from treating an infestation to preventing one from occurring next year!

What Really Are Lawn Grubs?

billbug beetles

Lawn grubs are the larvae of beetles (oftentimes, Japanese, chafers, Oriental or billbug beetles). The beetles lay their eggs in your grass early summer, which hatch into white worm/caterpillar-like crawlers.

These larvae remain under the surface of your lawn throughout the summer months, snacking on your grass roots and other organic matter in your soil.

Once they fill their bellies, these fat and happy grubs burrow even deeper into your soil to “hibernate” for the winter, emerging early spring as adult beetles to start the cycle all over again.

Signs You Have a Grub Infestation

There are a few clear signs that you may have a lawn grub problem on your hands:

  1. Animals are digging up your lawn. These plump lawn grubs make hearty snacks for critters. Raccoons, skunks, birds and moles can scratch and claw at your turf, ripping up grass to get to chow down on their favorite delicacies.
  2. Dead patches of grass. Be cautious of this one, as dead grass patches might be caused by a number of other reasons. Nonetheless, lawn grubs can cause stretches of your turf to turn brown and wither, resembling the effects of dehydration. The difference behind drought and grubs is easy to identify though by simply pulling on the grass. If it comes right up you have grubs which have literally chewed the roots off the grass so there is nothing holding it in place.
  3. Sponge-like texture like late summer. When you step on your turf, does it feel springy or squishy? Just like a sponge has holes in it which make it compress easily, soil with lots of tunnels from grub damage will feel less than firm.

Bird eating lawn grubs

Confirm Your Suspicions

If you’re nodding your head at any of the above signs of lawn grubs, it’s time to do some investigating.

Grab a spade or small shovel and cut out a section of your grass. A foot wide by two to four inches deep is perfect. If you have an infestation of grubs, your grass will be weakened and should pull up easily.

If your sample area is home to six or more grubs, this is an excessive amount and means your landscape is in need of grub control treatment. A healthy landscape can usually handle anything less than five in this size area, but an already weakened turf might require treatment with less than six grubs.

Treating Lawn Grubs

For those with a grub problem, you’ll need the help of an expert to identify the type of beetle larvae at hand. At this point, an insecticide can be applied to stop the hatchlings in their tracks.

After riding your property of the pesky grubs, you will likely need to aerate and overseed your landscape to regrow new grass in the damaged areas— which requires a lot of patience and TLC.

Preventing Lawn Grubs Next Year

Insecticides can take a toll on your landscape, and your lawn will have to take time to recover from any previous grub damage to your grass roots or soil structure.

Because of this stress, the best solution is always to prevent grubs from overtaking your turf in the first place.

Next season, be sure to:

  • Apply grub control, early. Treat your lawn with a safe, organic grub control solution in the springtime. This will target the pest right before or just as they hatch. Here in Massachusetts, we usually recommend laying down a layer of fertilizer with a grub control solution in June.
  • Control the adult beetle population. Beetles can eat your garden plants and lay their eggs all throughout your yard. Treating your lawn and trapping adult beetles can help to keep the beetles away and prevent lawn grubs.
  • Invite friendly birds. Put up a few bird feeders and houses around your property. Starlings, grosbeaks, magpies, robins and blue jays love feeding on lawn grubs and can help to control your pest problem.

The Beetle & Grub Treatment You Need

Bugs and grubs can really damage your landscape: chewing unsightly holes in your plants and killing your grass.

Keep these pests away by applying a preventative grub control solution in the spring. Luckily, this is already a step in our 7-Step Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program.

We also ward against mosquitos and ticks! Check out our turf care services, today. We always say, “Hire a professional— you’ll be glad you did.”

Guide to Fertilization

Topics: Summer Lawn Care, Lawn Grub Control