Mad About Berries

How To Get Rid Of Grubs

White grubs found in garden soil are the larval stage of various species of beetles, most commonly from the family Scarabaeidae. These beetle larvae are often referred to as "white grubs" due to their creamy-white, C-shaped bodies.

These grubs live in the soil and feed on the roots of grasses and other plants, which can cause significant damage to lawns, gardens, and agricultural fields. In some cases, the presence of white grubs may lead to the formation of brown, dead patches on lawns or the wilting of plants in gardens.

Updated: October 25, 2023.

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The term "white grub" is a general term and does not refer to a single species but rather encompasses several species of beetle larvae, including those of Japanese beetles, June beetles, European chafers, and masked chafers, among others.

Controlling white grubs often involves using targeted insecticides, beneficial nematodes, or introducing natural predators, such as birds or predatory insects, to help reduce their population.

What Is The Maximum Recommended Number of Grubs?

The maximum recommended number of grubs in a lawn or garden varies depending on factors such as the type of turfgrass or plants, soil conditions, and the overall health of the lawn or garden.

However, a general rule of thumb is that if you find more than 5 to 10 grubs per square foot in your lawn or garden, it may warrant intervention to prevent significant damage.

In lawns, the tolerance level for grubs may be higher if the turfgrass is well-established and has a robust root system. In this case, the lawn can often withstand a higher grub population without showing significant signs of stress or damage.

On the other hand, if the lawn is newly established, poorly maintained, or already stressed due to factors like drought or disease, even a small number of grubs can cause noticeable damage.

In gardens, the maximum recommended number of grubs can be lower than in lawns, as the grubs can cause more direct damage to the plants by feeding on their roots. In addition, some plants are more susceptible to grub damage than others, so the threshold for intervention may vary depending on the types of plants in your garden.

It is essential to monitor your lawn and garden regularly for signs of grub activity, such as wilting plants, thinning turf, or the presence of adult beetles. Early detection and intervention can help minimize the impact of grub infestations and maintain the health of your lawn and garden.

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How To Get Rid Of "White Grubs"?

Effectively controlling white grubs in your lawn or garden involves a combination of cultural practices, biological controls, and chemical treatments. Here are some strategies to help you manage and eliminate white grubs:

  • Cultural practices: Maintain a healthy lawn and garden by following proper watering, fertilizing, and mowing practices. A strong, well-established root system is more resilient to grub damage. Additionally, avoid excessive watering or over-fertilizing, as this can attract adult beetles and encourage them to lay eggs in your lawn.
  • Mechanical control: For small infestations, you can remove grubs by hand. Expose the grubs by lifting up a section of affected turf, and then collect and dispose of the grubs.

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  • Biological control: Introduce natural enemies to help reduce grub populations. Beneficial nematodes, such as Heterorhabditis bacteriophora or Steinernema spp., can be applied to the soil to parasitize and kill grubs. Milky spore (Paenibacillus popilliae) is a bacterium that specifically targets Japanese beetle grubs and can be used to reduce their numbers. Encouraging birds and other insectivorous animals to visit your garden can also help control grub populations.
  • Chemical control: Insecticides can be effective in controlling white grubs, but they should be used as a last resort and with caution. Some common insecticides for grub control include imidacloprid, halofenozide, and clothianidin. Apply these chemicals according to the label instructions and at the appropriate time to target the most susceptible stage of the grubs' life cycle, usually in late summer or early fall when the grubs are young and actively feeding. Keep in mind that chemical treatments may also impact non-target organisms and may have other environmental consequences.
  • Preventive measures: Apply insecticides with a preventive effect, such as neonicotinoids or anthranilic diamides, to target adult beetles before they lay eggs. This can help reduce future grub populations. Timing is crucial for preventive measures; consult your local extension office for the optimal application time in your region.
  • Monitoring: Regularly inspect your lawn and garden for signs of grub activity, such as brown patches or wilting plants. Early detection and intervention can help prevent extensive damage and reduce the need for more aggressive control measures.

Remember that no single control method will be 100% effective, and a combination of strategies is often necessary to manage white grub infestations.

It is essential to maintain vigilance and employ an integrated pest management approach for the most effective long-term control.

Chickens As Grubs Infestation Control: Pros and Cons

Gardeners and homeowners alike often face the challenge of grub infestations in their lawns and gardens. These white, C-shaped larvae of various beetles, including the dreaded Japanese beetle, can wreak havoc on grass and other plants by feeding on their roots.

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So, what's a sustainable and eco-friendly way to combat this issue? Enter the humble chicken.

Pros of Using Chickens for Grub Control

  • Natural and Chemical-Free: Using chickens to control grub populations means reducing or even eliminating the need for chemical pesticides. This not only ensures a safer environment for beneficial insects and plants but also reduces the potential harm to groundwater and other wildlife.
  • Dual Purpose: Chickens don't just hunt for grubs; they'll also consume a wide range of other pests. From ticks to caterpillars, chickens can significantly reduce the number of various unwanted critters. Plus, they provide fresh eggs, adding another dimension of utility to their presence.
  • Soil Aeration: As chickens scratch the ground in search of grubs and other insects, they inadvertently help aerate the soil. This activity can improve soil health by allowing better water infiltration and root growth.
  • Natural Fertilizer: Chickens produce manure, which can be an excellent fertilizer for gardens. Properly managed, this can enhance soil nutrients and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Cons of Using Chickens for Grub Control

  • Potential Damage: While searching for grubs, chickens can be somewhat indiscriminate in their scratching. This behavior can lead to upturned plants, disturbed mulch, and general chaos in garden beds.
  • Limited Coverage: While chickens are efficient foragers, they might not cover vast areas effectively. For large lawns or gardens, relying solely on chickens might not address the grub problem entirely.
  • Predator Attraction: Keeping chickens might attract predators like foxes, raccoons, or birds of prey. Ensuring the chickens' safety might require additional infrastructure like secure coops or fences.
  • Maintenance Needs: Chickens, like all animals, have their needs. From providing food and water to ensuring their health and safety, keeping chickens can be a commitment.

While chickens offer a natural and sustainable solution to grub infestations, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons before introducing them to your garden or lawn.

With proper management and a bit of planning, they can be a beneficial addition to the backyard ecosystem. However, always consider the potential challenges and ensure you're equipped to handle them.

Do Squirrels Eat Grubs?

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Yes, squirrels do eat grubs, but it's essential to understand this behavior in the broader context of their diet.

Grubs are a rich source of protein. Although they're not a primary food source for squirrels, squirrels won't hesitate to dig them up and eat them if the opportunity arises, especially when other food sources are scarce.

It's similar to how squirrels might occasionally eat insects, bird eggs, or even small vertebrates; these aren't their primary food sources, but squirrels can and will consume them when given the chance.

While you might observe squirrels digging in the yard, it's not always to search for grubs.

Often, they're burying or searching for nuts. However, in the process of this digging, if they come across grubs, they might consume them.

Other Animals Attracted to Grubs

Grubs, being a protein-rich food source, attract a variety of animals. If you've got grubs in your lawn or garden, here are some animals that might be frequent visitors:

  • Birds: Many bird species love grubs. Robins, starlings, and crows are often seen on lawns, tugging grubs out of the soil. Woodpeckers, while typically associated with trees, might also forage on the ground when they detect the presence of grubs.
  • Moles: These small mammals are probably the most notorious grub hunters. A mole's primary diet consists of earthworms, but they won't say no to a juicy grub. If you notice raised ridges or tunnels in your yard, it could be the work of a mole searching for its next meal.

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  • Skunks: These nocturnal critters are known to dig small holes in the lawn while hunting for grubs during their nightly forays. A skunk's varied diet includes insects, and grubs are a delicacy for them.
  • Raccoons: Like skunks, raccoons are not picky eaters. If they discover that your lawn is a good source of grubs, they might dig up patches of turf to get to them, leaving a noticeable mess behind.
  • Opossums: These marsupials have an omnivorous diet, and while they'll eat a variety of things, they won't hesitate to snack on grubs if they find them.
  • Foxes: While their primary diet consists of small mammals, fruits, and other food items, foxes are opportunistic and might dig up grubs when they're out and about.
  • Frogs and Toads: Both of these amphibians have insectivorous diets, and they'll gladly consume grubs if they come across them while hunting for other insects.
  • Lizards: Various ground-dwelling lizards, especially those in warmer climates, might consume grubs if they find them near the surface of the soil.
  • Bears: In areas where bears are found, they might be attracted to places with a high concentration of grubs. They can dig up significant portions of the ground in search of these larvae, especially when other food sources are limited.
  • Badgers: Though not common in all areas, badgers have a varied diet and will eat grubs. Their powerful claws allow them to dig efficiently.

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If you have a significant grub problem in your garden or lawn, it's not just the grubs causing the damage.

The variety of animals attracted by these larvae can also cause disruptions and might necessitate some form of pest control or natural deterrents to protect your yard.

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