It’s not uncommon to notice brown patches in your lawn during spring or early fall. Sadly, these patches might never turn green unless they are addressed. If this is something you’re experiencing, then you probably have grubs in your lawn.
Also known as white grubs, lawn grubs are the immature form of a scarab beetle known as the June bug. In Europe, they’re known as chafers. It’s usually at the larval stage that they’re known as grubs, and this is when they’re most destructive.
What are grubs?
As noted before, grubs are the immature form of June bugs, which are brown insects that keep flying around your lights during summer nights. Grubs are usually white, and they can stay in the soil up to three years before they pupate.
They’re C-shaped with soft, white bodies and brown heads. They have six legs, which are all near the head.
They feed on the roots of your grass, and that’s why you experience the brown patches. By feeding on the roots, your grass fails to get nutrients and starts to dry and wither.
Effects of grubs on your lawn
Grub infestation has adverse effects on your lawn:
- Patchy lawn appearance. The main effect of grubs in your lawn is the irregular patches of dead grass. It’s easy to mistake these patches for drought damage. However, it’s important to note that the impact is usually a gradual process. Your grass will slowly go from green to yellow before becoming brown. This means it’s still possible to salvage your lawn before the damage is extensive. The extent of the damage depends on the size of the infestation. The thinning and patchy spots usually occur where larval feeding is most active. The effect can be devastating if your grass has shallow roots. Grass with deeper roots has a better chance of survival.
- Poor soil adhesion. Grubs in your lawn cause weak soil structure. This means your grass can easily be uprooted by your kids, pets, or foot traffic. Poor soil adhesion doesn’t hold the grassroots strong enough. You can address this issue by fertilizing your lawns to encourage the growth of new, healthier roots.
Getting rid of grubs
There are several ways you can use to get rid of grubs in your lawn:
- Nematodes. This is a natural way of killing the grubs. Nematodes are microscopic parasites that work by entering into the grubs’ bodies. Once they’re in, they multiply and kill the host grub. However, using nematodes really takes a long time to kill all the grubs even though it’s effective.
- Milky spore disease. Milky spore usually comes in powder form, which you can find online or at your local garden store. Once you apply it to your lawn, it creates a bacterial environment called milky disease. It doesn’t harm the lawn, but it’s quite deadly to grubs. Like nematodes, milky spore also takes time to get rid of all grubs.
- Chemical control. While chemical options effectively kill grubs, they’re also likely to kill beneficial insects in your lawn. Before using one, take the time to read the instructions. Keep in mind that they also pose risks to your pets and kids. There are two categories of chemical controls: Curatives and preventives. Curative controls are designed to kill grubs when they’re already in your lawn. On the other hand, preventive controls help prevent your lawn from being infested, especially when your neighbor is already experiencing the bugs.
- Attract birds to your lawn. You can also use birds to get rid of grubs. There are certain birds, particularly the house wren, that feed on the white grubs. You can attract these birds to your lawn by setting up birdhouses and growing trees. Increased bird activity in your lawn or backyard will definitely eliminate the grubs.
Timing is important
While there are effective ways of killing the grubs, poor timing will see them quickly become adults, which are known to feed on the leaves of your favorite plants. Grubs are most susceptible when they’re young. This means you need to apply nematodes or chemicals in mid-to-late summer and early fall.
If you use preventive controls, be sure to water your lawn. This is because they contain nitrogen fertilizer, which can burn your grass during summer.
A good-looking and well-manicured lawn enhances the curb appeal of your home. It also improves the resale value of your property. But you can lose all that because of grubs, which feed on the roots of your grass.
So, if you notice yellow or brown patches of grass in your lawn, it’s better to address the problem before it becomes widespread. You can use pesticides or natural controls to kill the white grubs and protect your lawn.
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