Americans like having green lawns and lush landscaping around their homes. This design usually incorporates some type of grass like Bermuda, Fescue, Bent grass or Zoysia just to name a few. These environments need food and water to keep them healthy and looking good. These same requirements are what lure many types of pests in and around the home.
Though most may only nest or traverse through the grass, some actually eat grass. Surface feeders like locusts, grasshoppers and katydids are easy to see so activity can be quickly identified and properly handled. However, pests which reside and live under the grass pose a whole other problem.
One such pest actually eats the roots of grass and the unwary homeowner won’t know it is active or present until their grass starts to die! This pest is quite common and can appear anywhere in the United States. This pest is the common GRUB !!!
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Grubs are the larval stage of beetles. There are many types of grubs but the ones which live in the dirt under grass are most likely Japanese Beetle, June Beetle, May Beetle, Black Turfgrass, Asiatic Garden or some other regional beetle which lays eggs whose larva feed on plants.
Most people know what grubs look like. They usually have an off white, tan or even brown head, tend to be curled in a “C” position all the time, have lots of legs and a segmented body which is quite white.
Grubs can vary greatly in size which is not only dependent on species. Clearly the food supply has a lot to do with just how big or small any one grub might grow.
Other variables like temperature, humidity, water, local nutrients and soil type will influence their size and development. In most cases, eggs laid by adults will hatch in the spring or summer and the feeding grub larvae will grow up during the warm months of the year. By late summer and through the fall, they’ll be close to the soils surface where they’ll be chomping away at grass roots and other plants. This activity will cause plant damage and in some cases, attract digging predators like RACCOON or ARMADILLO.
Grubs live just under grass, usually 6 inches to a few feet down, all of which depends on their species, food supplies and the time of year.
Since so many insects generate a grub like young which can live in turf, the purpose of this article is not to inform you of any one specific species. The author will, however, explain all you need to know about grubs in general and then offer control methods which are designed to control whatever type of grub you may have active on your property.
HOW TO KNOW YOU HAVE GRUBS
Grubs usually go unnoticed until the results of their feeding is observed. Such results will include dead grass, plants and flowers. It is quite common to find them still feeding even as you are removing the dead plant, turf or flower!! Such “pockets” of grubs should be more then just an alarm alerting you to what is happening. Don’t ignore it.
ACTIVE GRUBS WILL ATTRACT DIGGING ANIMALS
In addition to grubs killing off plants, shrubs and grass, their presence tends to attract all kinds of animals. Moles, armadillo, badgers, birds, mice, rats, voles, shrews, gophers, groundhogs, opossum, raccoon, prairie dogs, and skunk are just some of the animals which will readily tear up and pull apart lawns in an effort to find grubs. They love grubs and lawns which have active grub populations will undoubtedly start to experience animal digging and damage.
GRUBS WILL LEAD TO OTHER PESTS
Grub infestations can also lead to other insect problems. There are many types of wasps which actually feed on grubs. These parasitic wasps thrive in yards where grubs are present and will come to feed and nest when large grub populations are active.
WHEN TO TREAT FOR GRUBS?
For the longest time, grub control has always been addressed by using granules applied to the turf at a “key” time of the year. It has always been preached that grubs are active in “certain months” and that it is only during these times of the year that chemical treatments will have any positive impact. Well, this approach has lead to somewhat inconsistent results. The inconsistencies stem from many facts. Here are some of the problems related to a “timed” application approach to grub control.
1) Timed applications rely on a premise that there is only one time of the year that a target population is active. Though this could be true for any one species, it is not likely that anyone can tell when this time might occur for the species active in your yard. In other words, what could be the “right” time in one yard may not be “right” for a neighbor. In fact, their time could be a month or more later or earlier.
2) There are far too many species of insects laying eggs which develop into damaging grubs to use this approach. Each species has a different time of the year which is the “right” time to treat and without knowing just which species you are treating for, trying to time the application is not practical. And since it is cost prohibitive to learn just which species you might have, even if you did know, it would only narrow the time frame down to a few months due to the problem of timing stated above in item #1.
3) The development of grubs varies tremendously from insect to insect. There are many grubs which are only active for one year but most are active for 2-3 years! In other words, an application made one year due to grub damage might have an immediate impact on the population that is currently feeding. However, all the eggs which haven’t hatched nor the ones which have already moved deeper because they have already fed will be impacted. This problem – the problem associated with the fact that several species are active for short intervals of time and that not all stages of any population will be vulnerable to a treatment at the same time – means more than any other reason that you must treat several times in any one year and that you will have to do so for several years running!!!
Problem #3 is probably the biggest mistake most people fall victim to regarding a timed application. They follow the advise of some local nursery or garden center which has recommended “one application” made at a precise time will get the problem under control. Nothing further from the truth could be true!!!
Such an approach does not take into account all the eggs which have not hatched, the part of the local population which has already fed and moved deeper into the soil which will effectively shield them from any treatment as well as the fact that it not likely that any one time is ideal! Remember, grubs which develop over a period of a few years will become active at different times of the year based more on their stage of their growth. In other words, the late spring might be right for 1 year old grubs which takes 3 years to mature but in their second year, they might be more active in the middle summer months. This will vary from species to species as well so there is clearly no way you can plan for the “right” application season let alone moment!
So then when is the best time to treat for grubs? NOW!!
The only exception to this rule would be if you reside somewhere cold and the ground you want to treat is either frozen or covered in snow. In these regions, it will probably be tough to treat throughout the year but if you have a mild winter, be sure to get down a treatment if possible. Remember, in cold regions treatments will last way longer since the chemical won’t be subject to the normal sun and rain which wear them down during the summer months.
But in many regions treating once in the spring, once mid summer and once in the fall will be required to successfully break the grub cycle once it’s established and if you follow this regime, you should see positive results in the spring of the year following your initial treatment.
HOW TO TREAT A “SLIGHT” GRUB PROBLEM
If you don’t have animal’s digging and want the easiest, most effective grub control option, spray PROTHOR over your grass. It will control any insect in the turf immediately and once it “grows” into the lawn, provide season long pest control for a wide range of pests. Prothor works great on wood borers too so use it as a soil drench for any tree you want to keep healthy. More on this can be read about in our TREE BORER ARTICLE.
Prothor is odorless and easy to use. 2.5 oz will treat 5,000 sq/ft of turf for 6-8 months so for most parts of the country, just one treatment a season is needed.
Our 27.5 oz jug will cover over an acre (about 1.25 acres).
The best way to apply the Prothor is with a good HOSE END SPRAYER. This is the kind of sprayer that attaches to your garden hose and uses the water pressure in the home to spray the turf so its usually very efficient. Setting it up to spray is easy to. In this example, lets say you wanted to treat 5,000 sq/ft. First you would add the 2.5 oz of Prothor to the sprayer. Next, you’d fill it with water up to the 5 gallon line which is about 1/4 of the way full. After that, you’d hook it to your hose and spray.
HOW TO TREAT A “BAD” GRUB PROBLEM
The second type of treatment schedule you should employ is if you have a lot of grub activity. When grubs are actively present, you need a fast acting, quick killing active for fast results. The next two products will work in days and since they taste really bad, will help repel and chase off digging predators too.
Like the treatments above, you’ll first start by applying MAXXTHOR GRANULES. Use 2 lbs per 1,000 sq/ft. This product comes packed in 12.5 lb Jugs and will treat up to 6,000 sq/ft using a granule spreader or by “shaking” it out using the jug which features a “salt/pepper” cap allowing it work as an applicator.
After applying the granules, spray over the top with MAXXTHOR EC. This active is fast acting and long lasting. And like the granules, it will help repel insect pests from the treatment as well as digging predators since it doesn’t taste good.
Add 2.5 oz of Maxxthor to our HOSE END SPRAYER (above), fill it to the 5 gallon line and use the entire amount to treat 5,000 sq/ft.
When treating a yard which has activity, it is always best to treat the whole yard including flower beds and mulch areas. Remember, just because you haven’t seen damaged grass or plants in some areas it does not mean that grubs are not present. Since you are treating a pest infestation for which a good visible inspection is just about impossible to perform, it is always best to treat as much of the area as possible. This insures you won’t miss a vital “grub pocket” which could lead to a lot more damage a month or two later. Treat at least once a month for two applications of liquid to insure you get good coverage.
HAVE PATIENCE; GRUB CONTROL TAKES TIME!
Using the products listed above, you can obtain grub control. But understand it will take one season to knock them out and in most cases, the benefit won’t be realized to the next spring. But remember it took years to kill off your turf so don’t expect it to come back within a few weeks. If its early fall when you first start treating, there just won’t be enough time to see the positive results but you will see the reward next year.
Grubs are the single most common turf problem found throughout the United States. There are many reasons why they like to feed on our grass, plants and shrubs and though they might be out of sight, the damage they do will soon be quite evident. If you have had a bad experience with grubs and want to treat your turf so you don’t get them again, apply Grub Free Granules every spring and you’ll never get them.
But once you have an active population of grubs, go with the Maxxthor Granules and spray for fast control. These actives will work quickly and knock out all activity and since they will also repel insect pests and digging predators, you can get started on the right track to grub elimination right away.
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