Destructive Turf Pests: Grubs

The American lawn is often the most expensive part of the landscape. We strive for that beautiful greenspace, free of weeds, free of pests, and a delight to our friends and neighbors. But getting that lawn can be a real challenge, especially for those of us in the Great Plains. We have to deal with cold winters, hot summers, droughts, floods, windstorms, moles, voles, armadillos, fungus, wilts, insects, and crazies. White grubs, a general term for the grub or larva of several beetle species, can be the cause and effect of several issues.

The common May/June beetle is a pest of turf grass and lawns

White grubs damage turf by feeding the roots. They also cause problems by being eaten by mammals such as skunks, raccoons, armadillos, birds, and moles. These animals tear up turf to get to the grubs. Another problem is that the adults of the insect (beetles) feed on a variety of landscape ornamentals, fruit trees, and flowers. 

Life cycle of the Japanese Beetle

What can we do? We can try to control the grubs in the ground or the beetles above. But first we must recognize the life cycle of these insects. The above chart shows the life cycle of the Japanese beetle, a destructive turf and ornamental pest. The easiest time to take care of this pest is while the insect is still in larval stage, aka the grub. The best time to apply chemical controls is when the grubs have just hatched. Try to time chemical applications in May and June for most species. 

Black turfgrass ataenius is a small beetle whose larva feeds on grass roots

If you are unsure whether you have a problem with grubs please call Grimm’s Gardens to have our turfgrass manager come and check your lawn. And trust me, if you have had a problem with Japanese beetles, you have a grub problem.

The green June beetle has large larva, similar to the May/June beetle, the adults feed on flowers and fruit

Happy planting!

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