First aid for your lawn: grubs

Has your lawn become patchy and a buffet for small animals? You may have a grub infestation. Here's how to identify the problem and save your lawn from these pesky invaders.

First aid for your lawn: grubs

Symptoms

  • Grub-chewed turf has patchy areas that wilt and die.
  • You can easily pull up the affected turf if you tug on it.
  • Another indicator of grubs may be increased raccoon, bird or mole activity. These creatures like to dig up and eat the grubs at night.
  • While this may sound good, the moles will kill the grass as they forage for grubs.

Cause

  • Lawn grubs are the larval stage of moths and beetles.
  • The grubs eat the roots of grass, setting them up to die by dehydration.

Remedy

  • Be vigilant. Are beetles swarming around your porch light? In the next month, keep an eye out for patches of grass that wilt or are blue-green on hot days. They may be larvae-infested.
  • Turn over some turf. If you count six to ten grubs (white worm-like larvae with black heads) under a 0.09 square metre (one square foot) area of sod, consider using a grub insecticide (available at home centres and nurseries). Or talk to a professional (look up "Grass Service" in your Yellow Pages or online) about treating your yard. They will be familiar with the grub problems in your region and the most suitable treatment methods.
  • If you spot the grubs but your count is lower than ten per 0.09 square metres (one square foot), baby your lawn to strengthen its natural defences.
  • Mow on higher blade settings and water thoroughly but infrequently to encourage the grass to grow new, deep roots.
  • Do not cut off more than one-third of the grass height at each mowing, to avoid stressing the plant.

How to prevent grubs

Inspect your turf periodically by pulling on patches that look unhealthy, or have a professional inspect your lawn if you suspect a problem.

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