Grub & moles prevention and restoration complete guide:
How to tell if grubs and moles are destroying your grass and what to do about it.
Lawn grubs, also referred to as white grubs, are larvae of June beetles, Japanese beetles, Black turfgrass Ataenius beetles that are found in the lawn beneath the surface. They are white, C-shaped, and have a soft body with legs near their head.They live in the soil where they feed on roots of grass and other organic matter.
They turn into pupae and then adult beetles to complete their life cycle. The beetles emerge from the ground and feed on the leaves of the plants in your garden. They lay eggs into the soil. These eggs will morph into lawn grubs and perpetuate the cycle.
You will learn:
- How to identify grubs
- Organic solutions to grubs
- Chemical solutions & what the pros use
- Eliminating Moles
- Restoring your lawn
How to tell if grubs are killing your grass?
The beetles show up from early to mid-summer during which time they lay their eggs. The new set of grubs that hatch from those eggs starts destroying your lawn immediately. As winter approaches, they burrow deeper into the soil to protect themselves from the cold.
When spring arrives, they awaken and resume eating the roots of grass before they turn into pupae when you have a lawn grub infestation, you will notice the following:
- Your lawn feels spongy when you step on it because it is not firmly supported by its roots (which have already been eaten). It’s almost as if it has just been laid.
- After noticing the looseness, you see patches of brown, dead grass even when you water your lawn regularly.
- Animals like raccoons, birds, armadillos, and skunks start visiting your lawn looking for grubs. Be careful with this observation as they could also be looking for earthworms.
If you have correctly identified all those signs, the next step is to physically verify that you have an infestation. Dig up a few sections of sod – each section typically one square foot area, three inches deep.
When should you treat your lawn for grubs?
If you spot the pests, do not start panicking. A healthy lawn should support a few grubs per square foot without notable damage. They actually help with aeration and loosening the soil; both are good for the grass.
To know when you treat your lawn, use the following guidelines:
- 5 or fewer per square foot: No treatment needed.
- 6 to 9 grubs per square foot: If they are not causing visible damage and aren’t inviting unwanted wildlife, no treatment required.
- 10 grubs or more per square foot: Start considering treatment.
A master gardener told me to always apply grub treatment in months that start with an A. So apply it in April and August to control the grubs year-round.
Grub Treatment – Grubs, Moles and Lawn fixes (15 Solutions)
1. Natural Methods of killing grubs
If you have a grub problem, the best time to kill them is when they are freshly hatched and living near the surface – that is usually between late summer and early fall. At that stage, they will have started eating roots.
If you don’t fancy pumping chemicals into your lawn, you can go with one of the following natural remedies:
Beneficial nematodes can eliminate up to 75% of lawn grubs. The nematodes carry bacteria that infect and kill white grubs. Beneficial Nematodes come in solid or liquid form. You can pick it up on Amazon.
2. Milky Spore:
It is a kind of bacteria that infects and kills grubs of the Japanese beetle. This is a great organic grub treatment that kills grubs naturally. It is very effective and will not kill your earthworms. I have had much better results with milky spore than with chemicals. You can get it here on Amazon.
The scent of garlic repels Japanese beetles and their grubs. Place ground garlic cloves in strategic places around your garden to deter these pests.
4. Neem Oil:
It is a hormone inhibitor that disrupts the normal functions of the grubs. It will make them fail to eat, mate, or lay eggs.
You can build houses for some bird species near your lawn and they will eat the grubs along with other pests.
2. Can I use Detergent to kill lawn grubs?
Yes, you can! Detergent has the advantages of being cheap and readily accessible. Laundry detergent can kill grubs if you apply it all over your lawn. A side benefit of using detergent is that it also adds phosphorous to the grass.
- Make sure your lawn is recently cut and short. This will allow the sprayed liquid to reach the ground and not sit on the grass.
- Get a sprayer with a long handle close to the ground like the one below. This will allow you to reach the ground.
- A mixture of lemon juice and detergent also works as a beetle repellant.
- Use 3 ounces lemon juice and 6 ounces liquid detergent
- Add a gallon of water
- Spray it in areas where grubs are known.
Which chemicals are best to kill grubs?
3. Curative Products
These chemicals kill the grubs immediately. However, they are more effective when the grubs are younger and living near the surface than when they are bigger and situated deeper. Dylox and Sevin are the products to choose from. Their active ingredients are trichlorfon, clothianidin, and carbaryl. Note that trichlorfon is prohibited in school regions in certain states.
Really sick of grubs and want them gone now? Get Merit.
This is what the professionals use when you need to get your lawn back….You can apply merit yourself and save 400%. You can check it out on Amazon here. (not available on Amazon as of 08/11/2020 -they will be restocking soon).
Merit sold out? Try this alternative to get a similar result. The good insecticides are going fast!
4. Preventive Products
These insecticides do not kill the existing pests, but they protect the lawn from future infestations. They are generally more effective than curative products. They are typically applied between May and August when the new grubs are hatching or about to hatch.
You can apply the preventive pesticide after the curative one to disrupt the life cycle.
GrubEX, MachII, and Merit are the most popular preventive products. Their active ingredients are thiamethoxam, halofenozide, imidacloprid, chlorantraniliprole, and clothianidin.
Which works best: MERIT
Which works least: GrubEx. When we moved in our new house I used Grub Ex for 3 years (and it never really worked). I switched to MERIT and am very satisfied with the results.
Essential Tools & Equipment Needed for Killing Grubs & Keeping them away (5-10)
Contains affiliate links where I will receive a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.
- Spreader. You need this to apply the Merit or whatever grub killer you buy. If you go the cheap route (as I have in the past with something from Home Depot then you will be buying more grub killer in the next few months). Get the Merit and do it right the first time.
- Safety gear. You don’t want to be walking around in your shoes when you are spraying or applying granular pesticide (insecticide). I recommend you use gloves, wear a dust mask, eye protection and foot protection or boot.
- Mole Killer.
- Talpirid Kills Moles is an earthworm bait that does a great job of killing your mole problem quickly. A few earthworms down the mole hole and your mole problem should be solved in a day or so. You can check it out on Amazon.
- There are several mole killers available but you need to go with the ones that actually will deliver results. Try a mole trap like Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Mole Eliminator Trap. You place it over a tunnel and it quickly stops the mole in its tracks. This has worked wonders for my neighbor’s yard and ours as well. Also available on Amazon.
- Yard Butler Gopher Bait Applicator
When applying pellets you need an applicator that gets beneath the soil without disturbing it. Simply load the pellets in the top, push down into the tunnel and release the poison. This method is great when you don’t want to touch the bait.
It is available via their website and Amazon.
- Lawn restoration.
- Fertilizer. Get an organic fertilizer that won’t kill your lawn. You may be tempted to go overboard with a strong chemical lawn fertilizer but may burn it by over applying it in an attempt to restore your lawn. I’ve been there. Learn from my mistakes. The Lawn Care Nut on Youtube (recognized as the industry authority on lawn care) recommends this method.
- Water frequently.
- Remove dead grass.
- Add grass seed in bare spots after prepping first.
11. Recommended practices as you use pesticides;
1. If you decide to use a pesticide to kill the grubs, it will probably be toxic to good insects like bees and other pollinators as well. To protect them from harm, mow your lawn before you apply the chemical to get rid of flowers that may attract them.
2. Water your lawn after you apply the pesticide to avoid burning your plants and to enable the soil to absorb it.
3. Don’t apply too much pesticides as it will run off your lawn and into the environment. Use only the recommended usage on the back of the bottle.
12. Preventative measures
- 1. Since the beetles lay their eggs in damp soil, stop watering your lawn when it is dry during the summer – particularly mid-summer.
- 2. Plant a grass that has deep roots. Depending on the varieties that grow in your area, choose one that has deeper roots. It will help in two ways:
- It will not require you a lot of water even during the dry seasons yet it will remain in good condition throughout.
- The grass will be more tolerant to grubs because its extensive root network will do okay feeding a few grubs. By contrast, a shallow-rooted grass is less likely to survive grubs because it doesn’t have enough roots to spare.
- 3. Let the grass grow taller. Beetles don’t like laying eggs in long grass so it can act as a deterrent.
- 4. Ask your neighbors to control these pests to prevent them from spreading to your lawn.
13. Will grub damaged lawn grow back?
If you realize that your lawn is showing all the signs of infestation and pulling up some patches reveals more than 10 grubs per square foot, how do you determine whether to remove all of it or wait it out? Can it survive the onslaught?
- Here are some options:
- If it is dead and brown, there’s nothing you can do to reverse the damage. Start thinking of planting new sod.
- If it is still green, treat it with curative pesticide or one of the other non-chemical means. Some of it will recover, the rest will die.
- Another option, if it still green, is to leave it till spring to see whether some of it will survive. In the meantime, apply preventive pesticide to prevent future attacks.
14. Restoring your lawn
- Since grubs are under the grass, you can’t just eliminate their damage. You have to restore the damage they have caused.
- It is a process but can be done in a 4-8 weeks.
- Remove dead grass.
- Apply new grass seed and water according to the instructions. Make sure you are watering frequently. This is where most homeowners fail at growing new grass. You water the first 2-3 days but then forget. Make sure it is a priority or else the grass will not grow if there is not enough moisture for germination.
15. Preparing for next year
- Apply the grub killer in August and in April. This will ensure that they stay away and your grass is nice and green the next year.
- Keep an eye out for the moles coming back. They are tricky little devils and often take a few attempts to kill.
What is best for grubs in gardens?
There are several products you can use to kills the grubs in your gardens but it is generally best to use organic solutions. That way you are not spraying chemicals on your food.
- Nematodes seek out and kill grubs and other insects in the soil and are a good solution for gardens. They are not as immediate as a chemical application would be but they are effective.
What about grubs in compost?
The same answer for gardens would apply to compost. You will most likely put the compost on your garden and would not want to use any chemicals. Nematodes are the way to go.
Grubs and skunks?
Awe, another animal digging up your yard?
Skunks in your garden or yard are searching for food in the ground and will eat grubs. The solution to getting rid of skunks is to get rid of the grubs and use moth balls for the skunks. They hate the smell! Imagine that! Sprinkle a few in the area where the skunks are terrorizing your garden and they will be gone in no time.
Have a lot of bug problems in general?
I use Talstar P Professional Insecticide as a broadcast insecticide for over 70 different pests including (ants, mosquitoes, bees, spiders, etc). Once it is dry it is safe around pets and kids. Hands down, it is the best insecticide I have ever used. Follow the directions, wear PPE when you spray it and you will love the results.
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