Grub Worm Control: Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Lawn Grubs

Grub Worm

Emma Downey

Emma Downey
Gardening Expert

Updated on 12/4/2022

Even though it's true that the overwhelming majority of the insects you discover in your garden won't do anything to harm the plants there, there are always going to be a few that may. Especially if the quantity of grub worm insects grows out of control and begins to cause problems, there will always be a few insects that can damage, even though the great majority of bugs won't be a problem. 

A kind of insect goes by the name of the grub worm and is notorious for causing problems for homeowners with lawns. These insects, known as grubs, lawn grubs, white grubs, and turf grubs, feed on the roots of lawn grass and are capable of causing severe harm to a lawn if there is a high number of them infesting the property. 

Grub Worm

Grubs are also known as turf and white grubs, among other names, and these unwelcome visitors are also commonly referred to as grubs in common parlance. Before you can learn how to get rid of grub worms, you need to be able to accurately identify them and decide how many of them there are that are too numerous for your lawn to manage. Once you have done that, you can go on to the next step of learning how to get rid of grub worms.

Let's Start By Defining What A Grub Worm Is.

Regardless of what you want to refer to them, grub worms are not in any way related to the actual worms discovered in nature. They are the immature form of a broad range of beetle species, all of which are part of the beetles known as scarabs. They have six legs arranged in a frontal position on their bodies, and you may compare the hue of their heads to a rusty orange. They have a body color almost identical to the color of cream. The body of a grub is glossy and smooth, and it is formed like the letter C. Grubs may be identified by their characteristic sound. Grubs consume the flesh of deceased creatures.

Grub Worm

Even though most people are under the impression that all grubs in lawns are the larvae of Japanese beetles, there are many different kinds of beetles whose immature stages are referred to as grub worms. Japanese beetles are the most common beetle species, with grubs as their larvae. The larvae of Japanese beetles, known as grubs, are the most frequent type of grubs seen in beetle species. They all have a lifespan that is pretty comparable to one another and are to blame for the same sort of damage that we see on our lawns as a result of the fact that they consume the grassroots. This damage can be attributed to the fact that they are all responsible for the same lawn disease. There is a widespread misunderstanding that Japanese beetles are accountable for the harm caused by other types of grubs, which is not the case.

The following four species of the family Scarabaeidae are well-known for the activity of their larvae, which consists of nibbling on the roots of turfgrass. These four species are listed in order from most common to least common. These beetles belong to the family Scarabaeidae. If we do not take steps to keep them under control, they may end up inflicting substantial harm to our lawns. Keeping them in check is something that we need to accomplish (more on what their damage looks like below).

What Does The Larval Stage Of Grub Worms?

Grub Worm

The adult beetles that grub worms can mature into depending on the species to which the grub worms belong and the environment in which the grub worms live. Grub worms have the potential to metamorphose into a wide variety of different beetles. Suppose you want to be able to tell the difference between the many kinds of grub worms. In that case, you will require a magnifying glass and a compelling desire to examine the hairs on their posterior regions (no, I am not joking). 

They seem comparable to one another while in the grub stage of their development. Before they grow into adults, there is also a slight variation in size between the various varieties. However, you should not use size alone to identify them since they develop from eggs to pupae over several months, and their size fluctuates throughout this process. To accurately identify them, you should not utilize size alone. As a result, size by itself shouldn't be regarded as a distinguishing factor for anything.

Grub Worm Type 1: Japanese Beetles (Popillia Japonica)

The lawn grub in question is notorious for causing problems in the Northeast. Its range has recently expanded to include isolated populations over a significant portion of the continental territory of the United States and some regions in Canada. The lawn grub in question is infamous for causing problems in the Midwest. It is believed that adult beetles measuring approximately half an inch in length and having wing coatings colored copper was accidentally brought to North America from Asia in the early 1900s. Since then, they have expanded throughout the entirety of the continent.

Grub Worm

The last segment of the abdomen of each Japanese beetle grub may be distinguished from the abdominal parts of other types of pest grubs by the presence of a characteristic V-shaped row of minute black hairs. This trait is shared only by Japanese beetle grubs. Fares of the Japanese beetle consume the larvae of Japanese beetles as their food source. The larvae may reach a length of up to one inch and spend the cooler months of the year buried several feet below the surface of the ground. They emerge from their burrows when spring arrives.

Around the middle of the summer, adult Japanese beetles start chewing through the leaves of more than 300 different plant species to get their next meal. Adult beetles only survive for 30–45 days, yet in that short time, they can do a significant amount of harm to anything they eat. Beetles have the potential to harm practically anything they eat. Be wary of and vigilant toward the adult beetles that have just lately hatched from their eggs. Pay close attention to these creatures. Getting an early start on the hand-picking will likely get you further. It is strongly suggested that you either soak the adults in soapy water or stomp on them to kill them.

The collection of videos that make up the Organic Pest Control for the Vegetable Garden online course that we provide has a total combined running time of two hours and thirty minutes. These movies cover a wide variety of topics, including the management of common garden pests like Japanese beetles, which is one of those topics.

Grub Worm Type 2: May/June Beetles (Phyllophaga Species)

Grub Worm

Even though there are many hundreds of distinct species of May/June beetles, only around a dozen of these beetle species are regarded as being severe pests. Adult May and June beetles can be brown or black, and their length can range from half an inch to one inch. Their wingspan can be anywhere from two to four times their body length. Adult beetles are nocturnal organisms, and over the year, they are only active for a bit of size time total. It is not unusual to notice them congregating at night around lighted sites during the warmer months. This behavior is more prevalent when the weather is warmer. Adult beetles often do not do a significant amount of damage to the environments in which they live.

Depending on the species, the average lifespan of a May or June beetle is between one and three years. However, some beetles may live as long as five years. Most of their lives are spent as larvae, an insect stage distinguished by its propensity to reside underground. May/June beetle grub worms are easily characterized from Japanese beetle grub worms by the presence of two parallel rows of thick, stubby, dark hairs on the underside of May/June beetles' very last abdominal segment. (see, I told you you'd have to look at grub butts!). May/June beetle grub worms are easily distinguished from Japanese beetle grub. The May/June beetles are also considerably more significant than the Japanese beetle grub worms, although the Japanese beetle grub worms are far smaller.

Grub Worm Type 3: Oriental Beetles (Anomala Orientalis, Syn. Exomala Orientalis)

Grub Worm

This Asian species arrived in the Americas for the very first time in the 1920s. Since then, it has colonized the entire continent, stretching from Maine to South Carolina and west to Wisconsin. Its range currently extends from the east coast to the west coast. Adult beetles appear for the first time during the last week of June and the first week of July, and they remain active for a total of sixteen days after making their initial appearance. 

They are almost the same size as Japanese beetles, but the wing covers of their bodies are straw-colored and covered all over with irregular black spots. Adult beetles are only active at night and feed on blossoms while also skeletonizing the flora they consume. Adult beetles never emerge from their cocoons. It is common knowledge that beetles are responsible for damage sustained by trees and vegetation. Adult Oriental beetles, even though their name sounds menacing, seldom inflict harm that can be seen, even though they are familiar.

Grubs, on the other hand, have the potential to do significant harm to the roots of the turf grass, which is something that may be highly problematic. The damage caused by Oriental beetle grubs—which is frequently blamed on the more apparent Japanese beetle—results in a brown, patchy lawn, particularly in the months of late summer and fall. The damage caused by Oriental beetle grubs is frequently blamed on the more apparent Japanese beetle. As a result of the Japanese beetle's enhanced visibility, it is sometimes held responsible for this harm.

If you want to tell this kind of grub worm apart from others, look for two rows of black hairs on the back of its head that run perpendicular to one another (yes, I know, I keep bringing up grub butts.).

Grub Worm Type 4: Northern & Southern Masked Chafers (Cyclocephala Borealis And C. lurida)

Grub Worm

The northern masked chafer is a species that is indigenous to North America and can be found throughout the northeastern part of the continent. Its name comes from the mask that it wears. The southern masked chafer is a different species of chafer that is more likely to be seen in the states located further south. In addition to that, you brought a species from Europe to this part of the world.

When stretched to its full length, an adult masked chafer beetle is approximately half an inch long. They appear to be a dark brown color due to a black "mask" that covers their heads and gives the impression that they are covered with fur. Adult chafers cease feeding once they have emerged from their egg sacs in late June and begun actively reproducing for around one month. 

Adult chafers do not ingest food beyond this point in their lives. They are most active throughout the night, and during the mating season, as they search for a female to mate with, the males may sometimes be seen soaring just over the ground's surface. Nighttime is the time when they are most likely to be found.

The grub worms of the northern species of masked chafer feed on the roots of cool-season turf grasses, while the grub worms of the southern species feed on warm-season and transitional grasses. Both kinds of grub worms provide the origins of cool-season turf grasses, and grub worms that belong to northern species consume the roots of cool-season turf grasses. 

They cannot be identified from other types of white grubs in any way, shape, or form due to their outward appearance, which is virtually indistinguishable from that of other white grubs. For proper identification, it is essential to conduct a detailed inspection of the distribution of hairs on the abdomen's most posterior region, precisely as was necessary in the prior case. No discernable pattern is present in this species's strands; the way is entirely random.

How Do You Know If You Have A Grub Problem?

Most of the time, grub worms in your garden will not result in any issues, regardless of the species (or species) that are now there. There are a variety of distinct kinds of grub worms, all of which feed on the roots of the plants they infest. There is a possibility that a relatively high population of grubs can survive in healthy organic lawns and consist of a diversity of grass species as well as other plants, such as clover and violets, without causing any apparent signs of damage to the lawn. 

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That is because healthy organic grounds consist of diverse grass species and other plants. Grub worm problems are more likely to occur in properties that are either made up entirely of a single species of grass or have been overfertilized and over-irrigated. Both factors increase the risk of grub worm problems, and these two aspects raise the likelihood of having issues with grub worms (more on this in a bit).

In contrast, if your lawn is infested with grub worms at a rate of 15 or more grub worms per square foot of the property, your grass may grow black areas that are easy to peel back like a carpet. That occurs when grub worms feed on the grassroots, and this problem develops due to grub worms eating the grassroots. If you pull the grass away from the ground, you can find C-shaped grubs in the topmost layer of the soil beneath the grass.

The harm that grub worms do is most readily seen in the spring and autumn when the grub worms are most actively eating in the uppermost layer of soil. That is because seasons coincide with the periods of the year when the earth's temperature is highest.

Grub Worm Lifecycle

Grub Worm

Although the specific lifecycle of each species of grub worm is considerably different from the lifecycles of the others, in general, the adults are only active for a few brief weeks in the middle to late portion of the summer. The females will deposit their eggs on the dirt on your lawn or beneath the surface and feel most comfortable. After a few days, the eggs will hatch, and the baby grubs will begin digging into the earth and feeding on the plant roots. This process will continue for several weeks. You will repeat this procedure until the grubs mature into adult forms.

They might continue in the larval stage for anything from a few months to years, and this period may extend for a few months or even longer in some instances. They make their home quite a ways below the surface of the earth during the colder months of the year, but during the warmer months of spring and fall, it is not uncommon to see them grazing considerably closer to the earth's surface.

How To Prevent Grubs

You have a variety of options available to you to select from if you want to stop these insects from becoming a problem in your home before it is too late.

  • Lawns over-fertilized with chemical fertilizer are notorious for suffering the most harm from grub infestations. Grubs are a kind of insect that feed on the roots of plants, including grass. If you fertilize your lawn, you should avoid synthetic chemical fertilizers and adopt a natural lawn fertilization program. That is because synthetic chemical lawn fertilizers can be harmful to the environment. That is because synthetic chemical lawn fertilizers may harm the natural ecosystem.

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  • Lawns often watered to a shallower depth than other grass varieties are more likely to have a successful defense against grub worm infestations. Not only do female beetles need loose, wet ground toward the end of the summer to deposit their eggs, but freshly hatched grub worms also require moisture to remain alive once they have emerged from their cocoons. During the sweltering summer months, you should refrain from watering your lawn and let it go dormant on its own instead of rinsing it, and this will help your grass better withstand the heat.
  • When it comes time to have a family, adult female beetles choose lawns that have been meticulously mowed and are situated in locations that are well-lit by natural light. Maintaining a height of between three and four inches for your yard can prevent it from experiencing severe harm. You will find this an extremely beneficial tip if you have children or animals. It would be best if you did not make it any shorter than now because it is already too short.
  • Because there is more room for air in lighter, fluffier soils, it is more probable that female beetles will lay their eggs in those soils. There is a tendency for the decreased infestation in clay-rich soils compacted to a finer grain. For once, it's feasible that compacted soils might be helpful in the end.

How To Get Rid Of Grubs Organically

Grub Worm

Even if you take all the necessary precautions to prevent grub worms from infesting your lawn, the bare patches peel back like a carpet and may develop into a severe problem that requires corrective treatments. Grub worms can still create a significant enough issue to require curative therapies, even if your lawn has bare patches that peel back like a carpet.

We ask that you refrain from using grub killers that are manufactured with synthetic ingredients. Most of the majority come from neonicotinoids. Specific kinds of pesticides belong to the neonicotinoids family. And Neonicotinoids are also known as neonicotinoids. These substances are systemic, which means that the plant's roots absorb and transport them throughout the plant's vascular system, eventually found in the pollen and nectar. 

Since these substances are systemic, they are found in the pollen and nectar of the plant. Systemic compounds can be recognized since they are present in both the pollen and the nectar of the plant they affect. When you apply these substances to your lawn, they are absorbed by the grass and nearby trees, shrubs, and flowers that serve as food sources for pollinators. 

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That happens because the grass acts as a conduit for the nutrients. When you apply these things to your lawn, the grass absorbs them, and so do the surrounding trees, shrubs, and flowers. At any cost, you should steer clear of utilizing them. Recent research has linked them to the extinction of the world's bird and insect species.

You may put the following all-natural compound to use as a grub worm pesticide, and it is effective against all four different grub worms. It does not provide a threat to pollinators or any other animals that are not the targets of its destructive effects.

Beneficial Nematodes Kill Grub Worms (Species Heterorhabditis bacteriophora)

Beneficial nematodes are predatory microorganisms that can eat all of the many grub worm species. The term "grub worm" refers to one of four distinct species. These microscopic worm-like creatures are applied when the soil temperature reaches over 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the late spring, and these temperatures are measured in degrees Celsius. They will continue their quest for grubs and their elimination of them for the length of the growing season. They do not impact the environment, humans, animals, or other kinds of insects in any way, and they do not constitute a threat to any of these groups. 

Grub Worm

In addition, utilizing them is not difficult at all. There is no risk associated, and the results are gratifying. There is no need for you to feel concerned because they do not appear to be very hazardous. They give the impression of being powder-formed, which is not far from the truth. To make use of the product, you will first need to combine the powder with some water, and then you will need to apply it to your grass, utilizing a sprayer that is compatible with a garden hose attachment.

Nematodes are considered living organisms; thus, you will need to obtain new stock from a reliable source and store them following the directions listed on the label. Nematodes can be found in soil, freshwater, and soilless media. Because it does not perform as well surviving the winter as other nematode species, the nematode species Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, which is used to combat grubs, must be applied once more in the spring if grub damage has been caused. That is because it is necessary.

Because nematodes that are beneficial for your grass can adapt to their environment with the most excellent effectiveness in wet soil, you should water your grass before and after distributing the worms so that the earth is adequately moist. If you want the nematodes to have enough time to burrow down into the soil before the sun rises, you should apply the spray in the evening and mix the solution with distilled water. 

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That will provide the nematodes enough time to perform their job before the sun rises. Because of this, the nematodes will have sufficient time to complete their tasks before the sun rises. A few weeks after the treatment, keep an eye out for reddish-brown grubs; this indicates that the nematodes are carrying out their intended function.

Another Grub Worm Control

Depending on your inclination, the soil can get the milky spore bacteria in either powdered or granular form when it's introduced to the mix. Bacillus popilliae is now known by the name Paenibacillus popilliae, the new name given to what was formerly known as Bacillus popilliae. The larvae of the Japanese beetle eat the spores, which then reproduce inside the grub's body after being digested by the larvae. The fare will eventually perish due to this, ultimately resulting in further spores dissemination. On the other hand, milky spore disease is exclusive to Japanese beetle grubs and does not harm any different type of grass grubs, and it only affects Japanese beetle grubs.

Since the end of August is the most effective time to apply it, you should do so when the grubs are actively growing and positioned in the top layer of the soil because this is the most effective time to do so. Milky spore, which can be acquired at this place, has the potential to keep working effectively for ten years or even longer, provided that it is consumed in line with the directions that are stated on the container.

Knowing When To Take Action

Grub Worm

Keep in mind that the discovery of a handful of grub worm in your soil should not prompt you to worry excessively about the condition of your garden. Ignore them entirely until you see brown stains on your grass that can be easily removed or if there are more than 15 grubs per square foot of grass in your yard. In either case, you should take action. You ought to take some action in each of these scenarios. They provide an excellent source of sustenance for a wide variety of animals, including birds, salamanders, ground beetles, toads, and frogs.

Indeed, the vast majority of insects you discover in your garden won't harm the plants there, but there will always be a few that can, particularly if the number of those insects gets out of hand. The grub worm is one type of bug that can be a problem for homeowners with lawns. These animals, which feed on the roots of lawn grass and are referred to as grubs, lawn grubs, white grubs, and turf grubs, can do severe harm to a lawn if many infest the property. Grubs are another frequent name for these pests. Before you can learn how to get rid of grub worms, you need to be able to properly recognize them and figure out how many of them are too numerous for your grass to manage.