White grubs crawling through dark soil

Grub Control

There are hundreds of beetle species in the world that give birth to what eventually become larvae. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and have a wide-ranging diet specific to each species. So we don’t bore or overwhelm you with an encyclopedia of grub species facts, we are going to focus solely on the white grub.

This grub species is the nemesis of many homeowners who are diligently trying to perfect their lawns. A grub infestation can take a lawn from the envy of the neighborhood to dead and patchy seemingly overnight. We’re here to help. Keep scrolling to learn more about these small, c-shaped creatures and how to not only get them out of your lawn but keep them away.

What are Grubs?

What: White grubs are the larval stage of many insects such as June bugs, European Chafers, Japanese Beetles, and Billbugs. They are white, soft-bodied and vary in length from ½” to 2” in length. If you see one in the dirt, they will most likely be in their characteristic “C” shape.

Where: They live just below the surface of your lawn in the dirt layer known as the topsoil. Excessively moist soil can push grubs to the surface, but they prefer to live below the surface at this stage of their lives.

When: In July and August, female beetles will lay up to 60 eggs each in the soil near plant roots. After two weeks, the eggs hatch and begin feasting on roots until the first frost. Winter drives these insects deeper (about 6 inches) into the soil. As the soil warms, they burrow closer to the surface until they pupate and emerge as adult beetles.

Diet: Grubs feed on roots and plants as they are growing. They do not discriminate between your manicured lawn, weeds, vegetable gardens, or other landscaped plants. Any plant with roots that is commonly found in lawns and gardens is on their menu.

Symptoms and Results of White Grub Damage

Grub infestations can cause major damage to your lawn and garden in a very short period. Since these pests spend their time eating underground, it is hard to spot a grub infestation before damage has occurred.

The presence of patchy grass, moles, skunks, or crows may be signs of a grub infestation

Before you panic, there are plenty of signs that grubs have begun to take over. Here are a few:

Patches of Dead or Dying Turf

If you’ve noticed patches of dead, yellowing, or unhealthy-looking grass, you might be seeing the first results of grubs eating their way across your lawn. As grubs feast on plant roots, the plants are no longer able to absorb the nutrients they need to survive and will ultimately die. At the first signs of patchy, dying grass, perform some tests (see below) to determine if grubs are the cause.

Presence of Skunks, Crows, or Moles Feeding On or Near Turf

Skunks, crows, other birds, and moles love to eat grubs. If you’ve noticed holes being dug in your backyard at night, it could be a sign that skunks are feasting on grubs on their nocturnal search for food. While this is one type of control method for keeping grubs under control, skunks have no qualms about digging your lawn to shreds to get their dinner.

Birds, especially crows, also eat grubs whenever they can find them. A few birds on your lawn is nothing to worry about but when it starts to look like a bird buffet line you might want to give your lawn a closer look.

Moles will occasionally eat grubs, but they are not their favorite food. Moles primarily eat earthworms over any other food source. If there aren’t enough worms around to satiate their hunger, they will feast on some grubs. The presence of moles can be seen by their characteristic mounds and runways, which also damage your lawn.

Grass Easily Pulled Away In Chunks

Can you pull grass up in large chunks with next to no effort? Are the roots missing? Can you roll your lawn back like it’s a carpet? These are without a doubt alarming results of grub infestations. If either of these situations occur, especially the latter, you have a serious infestation on your hands. Large chunks of grass coming up easily means they have no root systems left and will die very shortly.

Damage to Non-Grass Plants: Can Result In Their Death/Stunted Growth

Gardens are not safe either. These pests may be small, but their damage is large and wide-spread. Non-grass plants are also in danger. If you are seeing plants with stunted growth or plants suddenly dying off with no apparent cause, try checking their roots. If an infestation begins in your garden, it can potentially spread to your lawn. Keep an eye on all areas of your property that have plants with root systems.

Above-Ground Appearance of Grubs After Rainfall

Grubs do not like living in water-saturated soil. After heavy rainfall, they will burrow to the surface to breathe. Check your yard frequently after storms to see if any white grubs come to the surface and count how many there are per square foot.

Increased appearances of beetles, flies, and other adult insects in late spring or early summer

Particularly in May, June, and July, keep an eye out for the presence of a large number of beetles. Grubs will eventually transform into beetles so an excess amount of these insects calling your yard home could be an indication of what’s happening beneath your lawn.

Testing for White Grubs

Close up of a white grub

Testing for grubs is, luckily, not a difficult task. By now, you probably have some sort of inclination that grubs are preventing your lawn from looking its best. But how do you go about proving your theory? It’s time to break out the gloves and do some light digging.

  1. Bring a bucket or some sort of container you don’t mind getting dirty, gloves, a shovel, and a determined attitude.
  2. Dig a 1-foot cube in a section of your lawn, especially near areas that look like they might have fallen victim to grubs.
  3. Place the dirt in your container or bucket.
  4. With gloved hands, take the soil and break up the dirt as you search for the c-shaped grubs.

If you spot more than five grubs in this small space, a grub problem is well underway to becoming a major issue. Once you have taken your headcount, remove and destroy the grubs and replace the dirt. Fit the turf back into place and water thoroughly.

Wait...Why Are There Grubs Here But Not There?

Grubs are not known for their intelligence. They are not cunning adversaries which is a huge advantage when it comes to pest control. Sometimes all it takes is a simple barrier or a change in habitat conditions from one area to the next.

Grubs need specific conditions to thrive. There may be some parts of your yard that provide the perfect climate for grubs, while others may be different and less hospitable. Grubs also populate areas that are easy to get to.

If you find grubs in your front yard but not the back, ask yourself what barriers there might be that are preventing this from happening. Your house could be covering the majority of the land that bridges the two parts of your yard. A walkway might inhibit them from bridging the gap as well.

A sudden influx of grubs could also mean your neighbors treated their lawns with products that repel or kill insects. The surviving insects will make a beeline (no pun intended) for safer pastures, which, in this case, could be your lawn.

How to Defeat Grubs

You’ve identified your problem and need to regain control of your lawn. But how do you go about it? There are so many different methods that buying a herd of skunks sometimes might seem like the best option.

While skunks are cute, they are not your best option. Safer® Brand has an entire line of products that is dedicated to eradicating pest insects from your lawn while keeping your turf or garden free of harmful chemicals.

Safer Brand EndALL kills eggs, larvae and adults

When To Start Grub Control

The best time to start your campaign against grubs is at the first sign of grub activity. When it comes to pest control, timing is everything. The sooner you start to implement your plan, the fewer bugs you will have to deal with, and you can regain control sooner.

When it comes to eliminating grubs, the sooner the better. Grubs are their smallest in the late summer and early fall and they are conveniently located closer to the surface which makes them easier targets.

Safer Brand Product Solutions

It seems that there are as many solutions on the market as there are species of grubs. However, it is crucial to pick products that not only eliminate grubs but also preserve the integrity and health of your lawn.

At Safer® Brand, we want you to have the best of both worlds: a grub-free lawn and healthy turf. The healthier your lawn and root systems are, the better defended your plants are from an onslaught. The most effective method to rid your lawn of grubs is to target both the larvae and the adult beetles. Products like neem oil and beetle traps can help you be rid of these pests for good.

The Safer® Brand Neem Oil is a spray that allows you to target and eliminate pest insects regardless of their current life stage, egg, larvae, or adult beetle. Neem oil is particularly effective due to the ways it works to kill insects. It not only stops the insects’ molting processes but also acts as an appetite suppressant and repellent.

Safer Brand Japanese beetle Traps

Never fear. The Safer® Brand family of products will not douse your lawn with chemicals. Our products are made with naturally-derived ingredients that will not burn or contaminate your lawn when used as directed. They can be applied to lawns, gardens, and even your fruits and vegetables!

Beetle populations can quickly become overwhelming, especially when it comes to the Japanese Beetle. These white grub laying pests seem to appear in hordes with the sole purpose of eating your plants. To keep populations low, which will also keep grub numbers down, try hanging one or several Safer® Brand Japanese Beetle Traps.

While these traps only target adult beetles, they can make a massive dent in the beetle population. Effectively cutting down on the number of beetles in your yard will help decrease the number of eggs that could be laid and turn into grubs. The traps lure beetles with a food and sex attractant and prevents them from leaving the trap once they enter it. This disrupts their lifecycle and prevents them from laying eggs in your lawn.

Repairing Your Lawn After A Grub Infestation

Safer Brand Lawn Restore

Grub damage can be devastating for a lawn. Once grass roots have been completely eaten, there is no going back, and the plant will die off quickly. By using Safer® Brand products, you can prevent or stop grubs in their tracks before they can eat their way across your yard.

Damage done by predators digging or scrounging for meals of grubs can be equally devastating albeit more immediately visible. Keeping your lawn grub free and using humane repellents are great ways to prevent animal damage, but how can you repair a lawn once the damage has been done?

With Safer® Brand Lawn Restore, you can nourish your lawn with their naturally-derived ingredients, develop strong root systems, and fix those unattractive patches. The formula does not contain salt-based chemicals, so there is no risk of burning your lawn. It slowly releases nutrients into the soil so you can enjoy long-lasting results!

Tips for Preventing A Grub Infestation

Wouldn’t it be nice to worry less about whether or not grubs will invade your lawn? There are plenty of ways you can make your lawn less appealing to these destructive insects. Take a look below to see how you can incorporate these into your lawn care regimen.

  • Repellents – Products like neem oil act to kill insects and remain effective enough to repel insects wherever they are sprayed. You can also find animal repellents that will help keep skunks from digging in your lawn!
  • Landscaping – Adding paved walkways, walls, or levels to your lawn and garden can act as a physical barrier and may prevent grubs from progressing further into your property.
  • Mow Lawn – Keeping your turf mowed no shorter than 3 inches in height encourages root growth. The more roots you have to protect a plant’s vitality, the less likely a few grubs are to eat them all.
  • Watering – Water your lawn deeply but infrequently. Occasional watering teaches plant roots to extend deeper into the soil to find water which leads to more robust root systems.
  • Dry Soil – Allow your soil to dry completely between waterings. This creates an environment that beetles are more hesitant to lay their eggs in. However, keeping your soil dry for too long can damage turf.
  • Reducing Outdoor Lights – A study done at Ohio State University showed that adult beetles are attracted to outdoor lights at night and grub damage is common near outdoor lighting. Reducing the number or frequency of use of those lights could potentially keep grub populations lower.
  • Organic Fertilizers – The healthier your lawn, the more likely it will be able to survive an infestation. Organic fertilizers work to nourish your lawn with nutrients and encourage deep root growth to keep your turf as healthy as possible.

OMRI Certified for Organic Gardening Safer® Brand leads the alternative lawn and garden products industry, offering many solutions that are compliant with organic gardening standards. Safer® Brand recognizes this growing demand by consumers and offers a wide variety of products for lawns, gardens, landscapes, flowers, houseplants, insects and more!


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