White Grubs and June Bugs: Lawn Party Crashers

Nathan Riggs

White grubs can be a real nightmare for homeowners who value a showplace lawn. Keeping an eye out for June bugs in springtime and checking the lawn for signs of damage will help you manage infestations.

One of the signs that the turf growing season is in full swing is the incessant sound of male June beetles (Phyllophaga spp. and others) crashing into the lit windows of your home at night. More commonly called June bugs, these beetles emerge in late March, April and May to lay their eggs in lawns.

While adult June bugs are a big nuisance, it is their offspring — known as white grubs — that are the real pests. White grubs feed primarily on the roots of warm season turf grasses in June, July and August, causing massive damage and turf loss.

How do you know if your turf is being damaged by white grubs? Here are some signs to look for:

  1. If your turf is dying and the sod can be rolled up like a carpet in the dying areas, white grubs are to blame.
  2. If you can’t roll up your dying sod, chinch bugs may be the culprit.
  3. If your lawn is suddenly overtaken by large flocks of birds pulling at the sod, you may have white grubs.

If you pull up the sod and find white grubs underneath, any concentration at or above five grubs per square foot must be treated soon or extensive damage will occur. White grubs reach just over an inch long when fully grown and are usually found in a c-shape.

What can you do to manage white grub infestations in your lawn? There are natural and chemical options available for every preference.

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic soil worms that can be purchased at local nurseries and watered into the lawn to attack white grubs, flea larvae and other insects in the soil. They are harmless to humans, plants and pets. Soil must be kept relatively moist for their survival.

There are many new well-timed insecticide applications on the market that have very low toxicity to earthworms and other insects and have a long-lasting effect on white grubs. Apply these season-long grub control products in mid- to late-June for best results through the fall and lower numbers of adult beetles the following spring.

One other beautifying option available to you is to remove the areas of grass that are typically attacked by grubs and take advantage of SAWS’ WaterSaver Coupons. These coupons allow you to replace 200 square feet of grass at a time with beautiful landscape beds or patioscape living areas.

White grubs can be a real nightmare for homeowners who value a showplace lawn. Keeping an eye out for June bugs in springtime and checking the lawn for signs of damage will help you get ahead of the problem and reduce the amount of stress — and water — your lawn will require.

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