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Why Should I Be Concerned About Grubs?

Maybe you’ve heard of, or even seen, Japanese Beetles feeding on your roses. Boy, how frustrating it is to see your prized plants and flowers destroyed by those darned beetles!

Basic Grub Information

Grubs in Ohio are the offspring of several varieties of beetles. Each spring, beetles are attracted to certain plants around your home and throughout the entire neighborhood, too! Roses, purple leaf plum, hosta, viburnum, and weeping cherry are favorites, and there are plenty of others!

So, the challenge starts early each year when the beetles feed on the leaves of these plants. You can watch them skeletonize the leaves and even see them feeding. And then they mate.

This is when we see lots of those beetle traps—they look like little green bags and people put them under the plants where the beetles are feeding. This is a mistake! This just brings more beetles that do more damage. One of our teachers suggested getting beetle traps and giving them to a neighbor you don’t like!

So the female flies at night, depositing eggs as she goes in search of her next meal. This ritual continues for several weeks, and the timing is a little different for each beetle variety.

Those eggs she’s dropping hatch into the young grub worm a few weeks later, and this is what makes them such a serious threat. The baby grubs feed on the roots in your grass. That’s a real problem because the roots are the lifeline that provides food to your lawn, and without them, your lawn dies!

Grub Damage

Left untreated, the grubs feed on the roots in your lawn, often destroying large sections and causing the need to repair those areas by removing, then reseeding. The damage can cost thousands to fix. Plus, the grass seed you use to repair is different from the grass seed your lawn was originally planted with. Now you have thin grass with patchy areas that look and grow differently than the rest—which is far from ideal.

Signs of Grub Damage

You can spot signs of grub damage by looking for the following:

  • Thinning, yellowing grass.
  • Large, irregularly shaped brown areas.
  • Soft, spongy grass that pulls up easily like rolling carpet.
  • Increased activity from skunks, raccoons, birds, and chipmunks pulling back the sod, almost like a rototiller was used on your lawn.

Grubs Vs. Other Conditions

Grubs can easily be confused with other lawn conditions, including drought stress, too much shade, lawn fungus, chinch bugs, or even sod webworms. So how can you tell for sure it is actually grubs?

Large, brown spots also appear with drought stress—grass leaves will also turn a dull gray color. The grass blades may begin rolling and folding over.

With a fungal infection, your lawn will look extremely healthy in some areas and severely dry in others, even after a soaking rain. It also has a distinct smell, much like the smell of mold.

The Ultimate Test

To be sure your turf’s damage is caused by these little pests, try pulling back on a piece of sod in the dry area—you’ll find the grass pulls up like a carpet. Then you’ll see lots of grubs right under the sod. Hundreds of them! Grubs are off-white, C-shaped, and brown at one end. Most people think the head is brown—nope, that’s the rear end—and as a matter of fact, it’s how you know which variety of beetle is causing the damage. We won’t go into that here.

Finding a few grubs is normal and not a huge cause for concern. Depending on the size of your lawn, you may want to look in several different areas. If you are able to count more than 10 or more grubs per square foot, you have a serious infestation!

Our Program Versus DIY

When Ecolawn is servicing your lawn, you don’t have to worry about grubs damaging it. Your program includes our Guaranteed Grub Preventor treatment usually made at the same time as your second or third lawn feeding visit between June and August. Other companies may not even suggest this treatment, and others may not stand behind it. At Ecolawn, you won’t have grub damage, or it’s on us!

If you’re treating your own lawn, it can be a challenge to know what to apply and when is the right time for the most effective grub control. Late spring to early summer is a good rule of thumb. Follow package directions very carefully as products are expensive and you’ll want to maximize your success. When you have questions, we’re happy to help—even if you aren’t a client.

If I have Grubs, Do I Have Moles?

We get lots of calls each year—usually in spring and fall—saying there are mole tunnels in the lawn, so there must be grubs.

Moles are actually in search of earthworms and decaying organic matter like thatch. They don’t target grubs, although if one falls in their path, they’re not particular.

Moles are not an indicator of grubs—stay tuned for an upcoming blog about moles.

Lastly, if you see beetles destroying your landscape plants, please give us a call. We can treat your plants to limit the damage and help break the cycle.


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