Looking Ahead to White Grub Control
Perhaps the major lawn concern of summer is white grubs, in particular
if they affected the lawn in the past. Grub damage can be difficult
to predict. Lawns that have seen heavy damage last year may or may
not see a problem this year. Likewise, the 2000 season could be
the first time a particular lawn shows damage from grubs.
Grubs are white in color, with a characteristic
"C" shape body when found in the soil feeding on lawn roots. Grubs
are the larval stage of beetles. The most common grub species in
our area is the annual white grub (adult is masked chafer beetle).
Eggs are laid in the soil in mid-summer, primarily on well-watered
lawns in full sun, often near pavement. Damage from annual white
grubs typically starts in mid August and may continue until early
October. Japanese beetle grubs also occur in northern Illinois,
with timing very similar to annual white grub. Adult Japanese beetles
are serious defoliators of many ornamental plants. A third species,
the true white grub (May or June beetle), typically has a 3-year
life cycle which means it could potentially damage lawns throughout
the season. Both annual white grub and Japanese beetle go through
their life cycle in one year.
Since grubs feed on the roots of lawn grasses,
damage will appear as browning of the lawn. Consider that this also
could be due to problems such as drought, poor soil, diseases, etc.
However, grubs are easy to find by lifting sod in damaged areas
and checking the root zone for the whitish grubs. Don't treat for
grubs that don't exist! Skunks and raccoons may tear up lawns in
search of grubs, even when grub numbers are relatively low. Typically
a population of about 8 to 12 grubs per square foot causes lawn
damage that requires control; whereas lower populations may not
damage the grass, they may attract skunks and raccoons.
Lawns showing damage from grubs may be treated with an insecticide.
Insecticides available for homeowners to use for white grub control
include diazinon (25% EC [liquid] or 5% granular); trichlorfon
(Dylox) (6.2% granular); bendiocarb (Intercept), halofenozide
(GrubBGon, GrubEx), or imidacloprid (Merit, formerly
GrubEx). Heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematode is an
example of an alternative product for white grub control that is
available. For all products, read and follow all label directions,
then apply to damaged areas. Water the insecticide into the soil
immediately. If treating a large area, stop after a portion has
been treated and water the material in, then complete the rest of
the lawn area needing treatment. Only treat in and around affected
areas; grubs may only be in a small part of the lawn.
Many questions are asked about preventing grub damage with GrubEx
(halofenozide, formerly imidacloprid). Imidacloprid and
halofenozide are suggested to be applied before grub damage
appears, but dont apply them too early. An example of a way
to use these products in northern Illinois would be to apply in
July to irrigated lawns that are surrounded by dry lawns, especially
when adult beetle flight is high in areas with a history of grub
damage. Adult beetles will lay eggs in areas with adequate soil
moisture, so if July is dry but your lawn is watered, it is a target
for egg laying to occur. Look for Japanese beetles flying during
the day and annual white grub (masked chafer) beetles flying shortly
For the other insecticides listed, wait until grubs actually start
to show up before applying them to the lawn. Monitor the lawn starting
about mid-August and if any brown areas start to show, look for
the grubs in the soil below. If they are found to be causing the
damage, then treat them with an insecticide.
June - July 2000: Gardening
with Hebs - Part 2 | Chlorosis of Landscape
Plants | Looking Ahead to White Grub Control