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Grub Prevention, Identification, and Treatment - What You Need to Know

Posted by Jerry Schill on Aug 9, 2021 2:38:36 PM
Jerry Schill
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grub on landscapeGrub season is just around the corner, whether you live in Southwest, Northwest, Southeast, or Northeast Ohio. In other words: It's grub prevention season all across the state. 

The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure absolutely holds true when it comes to grubs. So if you're investing in landscape maintenance for your commercial property, you’re wise to preventively treat for grubs to preserve your turf and protect your lawn from infestation.

Grub worms are going to find your landscape if they haven't already — they're practically a given no matter what you do. But with timely preventative measures, you can avoid the all-too-common, damaging infestations that occur during the peak summer and early fall months.

However, even if preventative measures aren't taken in time, there are surefire ways to identify an infestation, as well as curative treatments that can keep an infestation under control. 

In this blog, we'll discuss grub worm prevention and how to identify and treat infestations so you can keep your commercial property's landscape looking its best throughout the growing season.

What Are Grubs?

Before we talk about preventing, identifying, and treating grubs, let's spend a moment addressing what a grub actually is.

Grubs are the immature form of various beetles, including Japanese beetles, June “bugs” (which are also beetles), and European chafers. They're white, C-shaped, and the size of your fingertip. 

When mature, they fly up from the soil, mate, and lay eggs. At that point, you’ve got a potentially damaging grub cycle in your lawn.

Some of these beetles — namely the Japanese beetles — will fly for miles to reach lush, well-irrigated turf to feed on. Grubs love healthy, maintained landscapes that offer plenty of food and water, which they need to nest and multiply.

Whether it’s relatively new sod or an established lawn, most lawns have some grubs — and this is okay. We expect a healthy number of grubs. An infestation is when you spot 10 or more grubs in a square foot of lawn.Japanese Beetle on landscape in Ohio

When Should You Treat Grubs — Before or After an Infestation? 

Catching grubs early in Ohio is the key to successfully treating (and saving) your turf. The best time to apply pesticides is when newly hatched grubs are feeding — before they mature, mate, and create more eggs. Mid- to late summer into early fall is peak egg-laying season and the prime time for grub treatment.

There's a place for both curative and preventative grub worm treatments, and your commercial property may require both types of applications. But first things first: Grub prevention treatment. Here’s why we recommend proactively treating grubs.

Grubs Come Back Every Year — That’s a Given

If grubs have ever infested your property, they will return. We promise. Grubs never really go away, and you can expect to find some grubs in every lawn. The number of grubs is what constitutes whether there's a problem. (We have actually seen infestations so bad that the grass is undulating with grub movement underneath.)

Because they're so persistent in their pursuit of healthy lawns to feed on, it's not possible to sterilize your lawn so that grubs never resurface. As long as you're irrigating your property and keeping your grass green and lush, the grubs will find you.

That said, treating your Ohio commercial property too late can result in more potent curative applications and costly lawn renovations.

Also, curative grub treatments involve using products with more potent active ingredients than preventative treatments. So if you wait until after grub worms settle into your lawn to manage them, you’ll need more chemicals to regain control of the property.

Our advice: Get rid of the majority of grubs in your commercial property's lawn with grub prevention treatments.

Grub Prevention Treatment Treads Lighter on the Environment

A grub preventive will treat existing grubs and those that are hatching. It can be applied in spring and again in fall.

Preventative treatments use products with fewer active ingredients and have a lower toxicity than curative applications. Because you're killing grubs when they're small, you don’t need as much firepower.

When grubs are smaller, you can use a product with a lower toxicity to manage them, which will have less of an impact on the environment and beneficial insects and animals, including bees, birds, and earthworms.

Preventative grub treatments allow you to do more with less, so it’s a more sustainable lawn care solution that yields better results. On the other hand, if you wait for grubs to infest (and grow larger), curative treatment requires using products that are more toxic. 

How Do You Know If Your Lawn Has Too Many Grubs? 

To put it another way, when do you need to start exploring curative treatments? 

There are three red flags that indicate your lawn has grub damage that needs to be addressed with curative treatments. 

1. Brown Patches That Roll Up Like Carpet

Grubs feed in the soil underneath lawns, compromising grass roots. That's why damaged areas of turf are easy to lift up from the ground. If you see dead spots in your lawn, see if you can roll that section of grass up like a carpet. If you can pull up grass and you see no roots, grubs were probably the culprit.

Brown patches may be irregularly shaped and even appear when your lawn is well-irrigated. That’s an immediate clue that lack of water is not the issue.

2. Scuffed Lawn From Animal Damage

The challenge with grub infestations is that the actual insect is only part of the problem. Grubs attract wildlife that will dig up your turf to eat them. Skunks, possums, moles, birds, and raccoons will tear up your lawn to reach grubs.

Ravaged areas of your lawn are a definite sign that something’s going on underneath the grass.

However, keep in mind that animals also dig for worms and other insects, so make sure to perform that “roll-up” check we described to reveal the culprit.

Grub Lawn Damage Potentially Worsened by Animals

3. Spongy Lawn

Before you see a brown patch from grub damage, you might notice that areas of your lawn feel spongy. This is why we recommend walking your property regularly to literally get a feel for what’s going on with your lawn.

If you notice spongy areas, take a closer look: Peel away that section of turf and inspect for roots. Are there any? Can you see the white, C-shaped, soft-bodied grubs? Count them. Are there 10 or more in a square foot section? If you find one to five grubs in a foot of lawn, that’s perfectly acceptable and there's no need for treatment. 

Man picking up part of landscape to Find Grubs

The Time And Place for Curative Grub Treatment

Curative grub control is a critical component to saving a lawn that's severely infested with grubs. Because grubs are stubborn and spread quickly, they will not go away on their own. Grubs don’t just die out, and they will cause a great deal of damage to your commercial property while they’re feeding.

If you neglected preventative grub treatment this year, consider a curative application before grubs set in too heavily and cause damage to your turf.

However, even if you've applied a preventative treatment, you may follow up with a curative treatment, depending on the circumstances of the first application. Preventative products need adequate irrigation to be effective. Wind and rain impact their efficacy. If grub prevention treatments were applied but grubs are still present, a curative follow-up is essential.

Schill Can Treat Grubs the Sustainable, Proactive Way

We always recommend the most sustainable solution for your commercial property.

In terms of treatment options, grub prevention is the most responsible answer. We like to include preventative treatment as part of a comprehensive lawn care program — and monitor whether curative treatment is also required.  

Give your property a fighting chance to thrive without grubs this year. Let’s talk more about how you can keep your lawn healthy by taking a proactive, sustainable approach to grub treatment. Call us any time at 440-345-8210 or reach out online and one of our experts will get back to you shortly. 

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Topics: Landscape Maintenance, Grub Identification, Grub Prevention, Grub Treatment

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