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How To Control Grubs

If dead patches suddenly begin popping up on your lawn, the culprit may be a slimy and disgusting grub. Other than looking revolting, grubs can be extremely destructive to your well-maintained lawn.  Grubs will devour your grass, patch-by-patch with no stopping in sight until homeowners decide to intervene or there's nothing left.

Yeah, their name sounds just as disgusting as they look. Grubs are small, c-shaped larvae of a variety of different species of bugs for example, beetles or June bugs. The icky bugs hatch in the fall and stay hidden underground during the winter months and then come out of hibernation during spring season. All that hiding away works up a big appetite for those slimy worms so they zone in on their favorite meal--your grass!

The grubs would feed on your grass and plants for the next few months until the larvae matures into beetles. After that they will start going after garden plants and flowers and will lay eggs in the soil to create the next generation of grubs that will feast on your lawn.

The extent of the damage these critters can inflict on your lawn depends on how many there are in your soil. At best you may only notice a few dead patches. At worst, your grass can become so terribly damaged that you can roll it back like a rug.

If you have grubs plaguing your lawn, Solutions Pest and Lawn can provide you with the tools and DIY know-how necessary to get rid of them and keep them gone.

Browse our grub control products below. We are available via live chat, phone call or email if you ever have any questions or concerns that you would like assistance with.

How To Get Rid of Grubs: 4 Step Solution

The proper way to deal with pesky grubs needs to start with a little bit of education on how these slimy buggers operate and where they come from. Once you have learned about their behaviors and tendencies, you can then move forward with an effective control and prevention plan and make your lawn the envy of your neighborhood again. Grabbing the first pesticide you can find at the store and spraying all willy-nilly isn’t the right approach to go about it, but most ill-informed homeowners decide to take that route. That is always a bad idea as it might not only be ineffective but it can damage your grass even further. Here is the simple 4 step process we recommend to eliminate grubs from your lawn.

Step 1: Be sure that what you are dealing with is indeed a grub. Grubs are slimy white worms often seen curled in a "C" shape between 3/8ths of an inch to 2 inches that you will find primarily under the soil. They are the larvae of beetles and have a thick and soft body. They have brownish colored heads and large mandibles. They also have three pairs of legs near their head which makes grubs standout amongst other larval lawn pests.


If you are having trouble pinpointing that the insect you see is a grub, you can always shoot us an email with a close up photo of the creature and we will shoot you back a reply with the proper ID of the insect and recommendations for the best control products to get rid of the pest.

Step 2: Before proceeding with chemical control, it is best to first perform a careful inspection to see where these grubs are concentrated and whether you have a small or large infestation. Check the damage of your grass and pay attention to patches of dead turf. Also we recommend testing your lawn for grubs by digging a square foot hole with a shovel about 3 inches deep. If you spot more than 5 grubs, than treatment is necessary.

Also look around for beetle activity. Grubs are the larval stage of beetles and if there is a lot of beetle activity on your lawn, grubs are likely to be present.

Step 3: Now to move onto chemical treatment. Equip yourself with a high-quality insecticide such as Dominion 2L that you can find below and mix into a hand-pump sprayer or hose end sprayer. You could also use a dry granular insecticide like Imidacloprid 0.5 G. In some cases where infestations are particularly heavy, you may need to use both for best results.These products also work to get rid of multiple other pests residing in your lawn.

Timing is important when controlling grubs. It’s best to apply in the early in the season. Rather than spot treating, do a full broadcast treatment over the entire lawn (a gallon of water per 1000 sq ft). Reapplication may be necessary until you no longer see grubs present.

Step 4: After the grubs have been eliminated, it is important to instill healthy and regular maintenance practices to promote a healthy turf so that your lawn can fend off any possible infestations in the future and prevent grubs from coming back. Mow your grass at the right height, fertilize at proper times of the year and water your lawn regularly but don’t overwater. Our Dominion 2L and Imidacloprid pesticides can also be used as a preventative treatment to keep grubs out so be sure to apply at least quarterly to keep your lawn grub free.


grubs in soilLearn More About Grubs

When you hear the word grub, especially when it comes to lawn care and turf insects, what image comes to your mind? For most people, it’s the sight of slimy, thick white nasty looking things under the soil which are doing a number on your green lawn.


White grubs main diet are the blades and roots of your grass. The injury to the roots impacts the ability of a lawn to absorb water and nutrients or tolerate the stress of high temperatures. Often the damage to the roots can be so bad that the grass can come off the ground like a rug.

What Makes A Grub A Grub?

We have been surprised over the years to learn that the word grub means many different things to many different people. There is a wide range of turf insects and some of them get called grubs correctly and some of them incorrectly.


For instance the mass chafer larva and other related insects like the Japanese beetle, the Oriental beetle and the black turfgrass ataenius among others are known as white grubs. Some of the features that all white grubs share is that they live in the soil and feed on the roots of plants. Depending upon the species, an older grub can vary in size from 3/8 to 2 inches long. They also share a soft, thick, white body which is frequently, although not always, curled into the shape of the letter C.


White grubs also all have three pairs of legs. A well-developed head is also an important characteristic of all white grubs. If you take a look at the head with a magnifying glass you will notice the powerful mandibles or jaws which are responsible for tearing precious turf roots to shreds.


White grubs are the larval or immature state of a large group of beetles known as scarab beetles. These hard-bodied, shield-shaped adult beetles do not usually harm turf plants, but it is much easier to identify and detect the adults as opposed to the grubs because the adults live aboveground and are frequently seen flying around.


While they are not white grubs, the billbug can also be referred to correctly as a grub. At first glance, the larvae of bill bugs look a lot like white grub larvae because they’re also soft-bodied and white and because they’re frequently found in the soil and cause they’re the damaging stage of the insect. Like the white grub, the adult billbug is also a beetle. There are some important difference between white grubs and bill bugs though. The biggest distinction is the lack of legs billbug larvae have. They are just a head and a body and not much else.


Insects which are often mistakenly referred to as grubs are crane fly larvae and black cutworm caterpillar larvae. Although these insect larvae are soft bodied like grubs are, they are much longer and thinner than the grubs we discussed earlier. The main reason they shouldnt be called grubs is because they are different evolutionary than grubs. Grubs are the immature state of beetles, while these insects are the immature stage of crane flies and other insects.


To recap, the characteristics shared by insects called grubs are soft, thick, light colored bodies, their well developed heads, their presence in the soil or inside plants and the fact that they are the larvae form of beetles.


It’s important to properly identify a grub for the purpose of control. Insecticide products which are labeled for controlling grubs is important. If you mistakenly see an insect and think it’s a grub when its actually not and you go and purchase an insecticide designated for grub control, you may have wasted your money as the product may not be effective against the insect because it’s not labeled to control that particular insect.


Are You dealing with a different turf insect? Check out our Turf Insect Category Page.


Life Cycle of a Grubgrub life cycle

Whether the species of grub is a masked chafer, a Japanese beetle or a June bug, the life cycles of each are largely similar and can take a year to go through metamorphosis. Adult beetles procreate and lay eggs in middle of summer, usually between late June until early August.


Eggs are laid below the soil surface and hatch after about 14 days. The initial instar of the grubs grow quickly and immediately begin to feast upon fine roots and organic matter. As they continue to develop, the grubs molt (shed their skin) two times. This process is usually called the grubs second and third instars. Most of the grubs have reached their third instar by the end of summer or into early autumn.


When temperatures cool in the fall around October and November, the grubs will stop feeding and burrow themselves deeper into the soil, where they will shield themselves to avoid the cold of winter. When spring arrives they come back up closer to the surface to continue feeding on grass roots. When the grubs have matured to its last stage,  they again move deeper into the soil and form a cell around them for the purpose of pupation. The adult beetles then come out a few weeks later to complete the cycle practically a year after they were deposited in the soil as eggs.


The bulk of damage caused by developing grubs is highest during the late part of summer between August and September. This is when the third instar is feeding heavily and the turf is going through the most stress from the summer heat. Turf damage occurs in the spring period but are usually less apparent since it is a time of active growth. White grubs enjoy eating grasses but may also feed on the roots of other plant life, including weeds.


Depending on the species, there are slight variations in the life cycle. For example, Green June beetle grubs feed primarily on organic matter in the soil but damage turfgrasses by tunneling and pushing up small mounds of soil. May beetles can take up to three years to reach adulthood. The black turfgrass ataenius, has two generations per year.


Better Safe Than Sorry: Equip Yourself With Protective Safety Equipment Before Spraying


Inspecting Your Lawn For Grub Damagephone id grubs

If you notice a change in the health of your lawn it can be a number of different factors: lawn disease, not enough water, stress from high temperatures etc. But there are ways to diagnose the damage coming from a lawn grub infestation.


The peak times for white grub damage is in August and September. You may notice symptoms of their presence via your grass gradually thinning and yellowing followed by the appearance of scattered, irregular dead patches. As time goes on, these dead patches will grow in size due to the feeding habits of the grubs and what you had perceived to be healthy grass will start to wilt.


Sod that is severely damaged by grubs will not be anchored well to the ground. It can be so bad that the sod can be peeled off from the soil with relative ease as if lifting a carpet. This is usually the most clearest indication of a white grub infestation.  If you notice a brown patch and it doesn’t lift up easily, then you can likely rule out grub damage as the cause. However if it does pull up easily, it is recommended that you inspect the top 1 or 2 inches of soil for the presence of white, c-shaped grubs..


If your turf had a grub infestation last year, chances are the adult beetles will likely return and reinfest the same areas as they have a tendency to do so. It should not be surprising to see swarms of adult beetles in the late summer who will be in reproductive mode and will likely be laying eggs over the turf in the evening time. Another way to see if you likely have a lawn grub issue is by turning on the porch light at night. Beetles like the Masked chafer and May beetle adults are drawn by street lights and you may see many floating around near a light in the evening time. Seeing japanese beetles being increasingly active and feeding can be another indication of white grubs being present in your turf.


If you are spotting the presence of moles, skunks, raccoons, or flocks of blackbirds around the area, it may not be by accident as these animals may find your turf appealing because of the presence of white grubs.


Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment For The Job. SHOP For Sprayers and Other Lawn Care Essentials



spraying for grubsApproaching Grub Control On Your Lawn

When you are certain that you have a grub infestation on your lawn, you can attack the issue head on by applying a grub control insecticide to the grass to put a stop to further damage to your precious turf. Grub control pesticide is available in both a liquid spray or in granular form. You should choose the formulation that is easiest for you to apply and is best for your budget.


Broadcast the product you choose over the entire area of your lawn. Timing is important when conducting grub control with insecticides. The best time to apply grub control products is in early to mid August when grubs are still small and they haven’t developed too much yet and the damage is relatively minimal.  Grubs are much more vulnerable to treatments the younger or the more earlier in the development cycle. Another reason why this is the prime time to apply insecticides is when it gets cooler, as we mentioned previously, grubs tend to sink down further into the soil which will make it harder for a insecticide to penetrate deep enough to reach the grubs and kill them.


No matter what type of insecticide product you choose, watering in the product is crucial. This allows the insecticide to travel down into the root zone where the grubs are hiding. Make sure the application is uniform for best results. Products such as imidacloprid or Merit granules do a great job of eliminating grub infestations. If you do not discover the grubs until later in the season when damage is visible, it may be best that you use both types of products, one in the spring and the other in the summer for total grub control.


Grub Prevention


Successful preventative measures to ensure the grubs don’t make a return entails a combination of both preventative pesticide treatments and cultural practices or environmental modifications to make your turf less appealing for grubs to reside and develop.


For instance, fertilization in the fall season can strengthen your root system and resist injury from grubs. Infrequent watering so the soil isn’t too moist can also help to lessen the chances of grub infestations since they like nice moist soil. Reducing excess thatch can be another way to prevent grub infestations from forming. You can also use beneficial nematodes in the fall.


Preventative grub control products should be applied in the spring all the way through early summer before or just around the time grubs typically hatch.


Recommended Resources For Further Reading On Grub Control

Grubs in lawn - Missouri Botanical Garden


Grubs in Lawns - LawnFAQs - University of Illinois Extension..


[PDF]Grubs in Your Lawn? a guide for lawn care ... - eCommons@Cornell

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