Understanding Lawn Grubs: Identification, Damage, and Control


The larvae of several beetle species are known as lawn grubs, or white grubs, and they can cause serious damage to lawns and other landscape features. These tiny, C-shaped bugs severely harm turfgrass, leaving behind brown patches as a result of their feeding on grassroots. We’ll discuss three important lawn grub topics in this blog post: identification, damage, and management strategies to assist you keep these harmful pests out of your lawn.

Identification of Lawn Grubs

Several beetle species, such as European chafers, June beetles, and Japanese beetles, have larval stages that are known as lawn grubs. Since lawn grubs spend much of their time below the soil’s surface, identifying them on your lawn might be difficult. However, there are several signs that indicate the presence of lawn grubs:

  • Irregular brown patches: Lawn grubs feed on grassroots, causing patches of grass to turn brown and die.
  • Spongy turf: As lawn grubs feed on grassroots, the turf may feel spongy or loose underfoot.
  • Increased wildlife activity: Animals like skunks, raccoons, and birds may dig up the lawn in search of lawn grubs to feed on, leaving behind patches of torn-up turf.

To confirm the presence of lawn grubs, you can perform a simple inspection by lifting a section of turf and examining the soil underneath for small, white C-shaped larvae.

Damage Caused by Lawn Grubs

Lawn grubs can cause significant damage to lawns if left untreated. Their feeding behavior disrupts the root system of grass plants, leading to brown patches and weakened turf. Some common signs of damage caused by lawn grubs include:

  • Thinning or dead patches of grass: Lawn grubs feed on grassroots, causing patches of grass to thin out or die.
  • Increased susceptibility to drought stress: Weakened turfgrass may become more susceptible to drought stress, leading to further damage during hot and dry weather.
  • Damage to ornamental plants: In addition to feeding on turfgrass, lawn grubs may also feed on the roots of ornamental plants, causing them to wilt or die.

If left unchecked, lawn grub infestations can result in extensive damage to lawns and landscapes, requiring costly repairs and reseeding efforts to restore healthy turf.

Control Methods for Lawn Grubs

Controlling lawn grubs requires a proactive approach to prevent damage and protect your lawn. Several effective control methods can help manage lawn grub populations. Check out Little John’s Lawns for an example of professional lawn care that can help with grubs, and keep the following tips in mind:

  • Biological control: Beneficial nematodes, such as Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema carpocapsae, are natural predators of lawn grubs and can be applied to the soil to control their populations.
  • Chemical control: Insecticides containing active ingredients like imidacloprid, chlorantraniliprole, or trichlorfon can be applied to the lawn to target and eliminate lawn grub larvae.
  • Cultural practices: Practices such as maintaining proper watering and fertilization, aerating the soil, and overseeding can help improve the overall health and resilience of turfgrass, making it less susceptible to lawn grub damage.

By implementing these control methods and regularly monitoring your lawn for signs of lawn grub activity, you can effectively manage infestations and protect your lawn from the damaging effects of these pests.

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