How to Get Rid of Grubs in Your Lawn – A Comprehensive Guide

Picture this: you’ve put time and effort into creating a lush, green lawn, only to discover unsightly brown patches spreading across it. Grubs could be the culprits wreaking havoc on your once-pristine turf. But fear not, for we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to get rid of grubs, to help you eliminate these pesky pests and restore your lawn to its former glory.

Short Summary

  • Understand grub life cycle, feeding habits and signs of damage to control infestations effectively.
  • Use natural methods such as milky spores, beneficial nematodes or attract birds for environmental impact reduction.
  • Implement safe application practices with proper lawn care techniques like watering, aeration & fertilization to deter weeds.

Understanding Grub Damage in Lawns

Grub damage in lawns can be a disheartening sight for any homeowner. These worm-like larvae, mainly from Japanese beetles, June beetles, and European chafer beetles, feed on grass roots, causing patches of thinning turf that increase in size.

Understanding the life cycle, feeding habits, and signs of grub damage is crucial for effective grub control.

Life Cycle of Grubs

Grubs are the larval stage of scarab beetles that become active during the spring season, consuming grass roots in large quantities. If not identified and managed, they will progress into pupae and ultimately mature into adult beetles, which lay eggs around their feeding sites during July and August. These beetle eggs hatch into new grubs that burrow into the soil and feed on grass roots, sustaining the infestation.

The optimal time for treatments against grubs is typically when the eggs hatch into a new wave of lawn grubs in August or September. Grubs are often identifiable by their off-white coloration. Further, they have chubby bodies, brown heads, and three pairs of legs. They migrate deeper into the soil during mid-fall to endure the cold winter months.

Feeding Habits

Grubs are detritivores, meaning they feed on organic material. Grubs feed on the roots of grasses and plants that are dead and decaying. They are drawn to the robust root system of grass.

Excessive thatch, a dense layer composed of both dead and living plant organic matter, can also attract grubs to lawns.

Signs of Grub Damage

Brown patches and a weakening of the lawn are observable signs that may suggest the presence of grubs in your lawn. These pests cause browning of grass during the summer and early fall months. Young grubs naturally eat grass roots – thinning turf that expands in area and dead grass that can be easily removed at the roots indicate grub damage.

Another sign of a potential grub problem is evidence of animals such as skunks and raccoons excavating the lawn. Although these animals do not necessarily indicate a grub infestation, they suggest that some insects are present in the lawn, such as grubs or other beneficial insects like earthworms.

Detecting Grub Infestations

Detecting grub infestations is essential for timely intervention and preventing further damage to your lawn. Two effective methods to confirm their presence are visual inspection and soil testing.

We will discuss these methods in the following subsections.

Visual Inspection

To check for grubs, utilize a small spade or shovel and inspect one or two dead patches of grass. This visual inspection technique is crucial in detecting grubs and assessing the severity of the infestation.

By examining the affected areas, you can determine whether grubs are present and causing damage to your lawn.

Soil Testing

Soil testing is another method to confirm the presence of bugs. Remove an area of grass measuring 1 square foot and 2 to 3 inches deep from the browning area. Perform a test on it to identify the cause. Upon completion of the excavation, if grubs are present, they will be visible.

An infestation is typically considered if there are ten or more grubs per square foot of exposed soil.

Natural Grub Control Methods

When dealing with grubs, many homeowners prefer natural control methods to minimize environmental impact and avoid harming beneficial insects. Natural grub control methods include milky spores, beneficial nematodes, and attracting birds to your lawn. Each method offers unique advantages and can help reduce grub populations effectively.

Milky Spore

Milky spore is a bacterial disease which affects the larval stage of Japanese beetles. This infection only infects larvae and has no effect on adults. It is an environmentally-friendly, non-toxic, natural option to control white grub populations. However, it only targets Japanese beetle grubs and not other species.

To apply milky spore, add a teaspoon of the powder to every 4 feet of the lawn, followed by watering the lawn after application. Keep in mind that soil temperature is crucial for spore development, with optimal temperatures ranging between 60° and 70°F.

Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, parasitic worms that invade grubs and release bacteria that cause their demise. When used correctly and in a timely manner, beneficial nematodes can provide 60-100% control of white grubs.

For optimal effectiveness, beneficial nematodes should be applied early in the morning or during the late afternoon to avoid direct sunlight. It is advisable to introduce fresh nematodes at least once or twice a year for approximately three years. This will help create and maintain a stable population.

Attracting Birds

Attracting birds to your yard can also be an effective way to control grub populations. Many bird species, such as crows, starlings, grosbeaks, magpies, robins, blue jays, chickadees, and blackbirds, feed on grubs.

You can attract birds to your yard by providing food, water, and shelter, as well as creating a bird-friendly habitat with native plants and trees.

Chemical Grub Control Options

grubs in lawn

While natural methods are preferred by many homeowners, chemical grub control options can also be effective in managing grub infestations. These options include preventative insecticides to control grubs, curative insecticides to kill grubs, and safe application practices.

It is essential to use these chemicals responsibly to minimize potential harm to beneficial insects and the environment.

Preventative Insecticides

Preventative insecticides are employed as grub control to avert potential grub issues, not to manage the grubs existing in the lawn in the spring. Applying these insecticides in June or July, before grubs hatch in the fall, can be an effective strategy.

However, it is crucial to note that these pesticides do not affect grubs already living in the lawn.

Curative Insecticides

Curative insecticides are short-lived compounds that are effective in killing all life stages of bugs. These insecticides are used to control pests after they have already caused damage and can be easily managed or have caused limited damage in the past.

It is important to apply curative insecticides responsibly by adhering to the instructions provided on the label and wearing protective gear.

Safe Application Practices

Safe application practices for lawn chemicals are crucial to minimize potential harm to people, beneficial insects, and the environment. When applying insecticides, it is important to follow the instructions on the label, wear protective gear, avoid application before windy or rainy days, and apply the correct amount of product.

By following these practices, you can effectively control grub infestations while minimizing potential risks.

Lawn Care Practices to Deter Grubs

Proper lawn care practices can deter grubs and prevent infestations from occurring. These practices include watering and irrigation, aeration and drying, and mowing and fertilization.

By implementing these practices, you can maintain a healthy lawn and reduce the need for chemical grub control.

Watering and Irrigation

Keeping your lawn well-watered is essential for maintaining its health and deterring grub infestations. Water your lawn early in the morning to reduce water loss from evaporation and wind.

Ensure that the top 6 to 8 inches of soil is wet to provide adequate hydration to the grass roots for optimal health and strength.

Aeration and Dethatching

Aeration and dethatching can help create an unfavorable environment for bugs. Removing thatch and aerating the lawn allows natural grub-killing methods, such as milky spores or beneficial nematodes, to penetrate the soil more effectively.

Dethatching annually will decrease the appeal of the lawn as a habitat for grubs and other pests.

Mowing and Fertilization

Mowing and fertilization are also essential for maintaining a healthy lawn and deterring weeds. Mow your lawn at the appropriate height and with a sharp blade to prevent stress on the grass.

Fertilize your lawn using a slow-release fertilizer tailored to the grass species to replenish the soil’s nutrients and encourage healthy grass growth.

When to Seek Professional Help

It is recommended to seek professional help for grub infestations if there are more than 6 grubs per square foot or 4-5 grubs per square foot if animals are digging. Timely intervention is crucial to prevent further damage to your lawn and restore its health.

By seeking professional help, you can ensure that the grub infestation is effectively managed and your lawn can recover from the damage.


In conclusion, grub infestations can cause significant damage to your lawn, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can effectively control and prevent these pests. Understanding grub damage, employing natural and chemical control methods, and implementing proper lawn care practices can help you maintain a healthy, grub-free lawn.

Don’t let grubs wreak havoc on your beautiful lawn. Take action today, whether it’s implementing natural control methods, using chemical treatments responsibly, or seeking professional help, and restore your lawn to its former glory.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get rid of grubs fast?

To get rid of grubs fast, consider spraying the lawn with a mixture of Dawn soap and water to smother and suffocate the grub worms and Japanese beetles. Alternatively, use insecticides such as carbaryl or trichlorfon to kill the bugs when applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Be sure to wear protective equipment when applying insecticides.

What kills grubs but not grass?

Milky spores can effectively solve your grub problem without damaging your grass. These beneficial spores attack the larvae of grubs and effectively stop them from causing any further damage.

While it does take a few years to develop enough spores, once established, milky spores can provide long-term protection from grubs.

What kills grubs right away?

To kill grubs right away, apply a curative insecticide with an active ingredient such as carbaryl or trichlorfon. These chemicals are effective immediately and work on contact with bugs. Products such as Sevin® and Dylox® contain these active ingredients and should be applied to the lawn during late summer and fall.

The quickest way to kill bugs is to apply a curative insecticide that contains the active ingredients carbaryl or trichlorfon. These short-lived compounds will work on contact and can be used in late summer and fall to quickly reduce grub populations. Examples of products that contain these chemicals include Sevin® and Dylox®.

What brings grubs to your yard?

Grubs are the larvae of beetles, such as Japanese beetles or June bugs. These female beetles lay their eggs in your lawn in late summer, usually between July and August. The eggs are laid just one or two inches deep in the soil, bringing grubs to your yard.

What kills grubs but not grass?

Milky Spore is a great solution for dealing with grubs in lawns, as it targets larvae without damaging the grass. It takes some time to build up an effective level of spores, but once established, it effectively keeps grub populations under control.

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