Any ideas about how to handle lawn grubs?
September 28, 2010 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Oh dear, our lawn has grubs! Should we fight them, and if so, how?

The lawn guys said they found grubs in our yard. They recommend killing them with poison, but I'm not sure that's the best/safest solution. First, we have 2 small children. Second, even though the yard is pretty small, we still manage to grow some food in it and not everything has ripened yet. Do we really need to kill the grubs now, or will they spread to our neighbors' yards if we don't get rid of them right away? Is poison the best option and which poison is least harmful to kids and other growing (tomato/cucumber/herb) things? How long does the poison make the food plants unsafe to eat? Thanks!
posted by debgpi to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of grubs?
posted by desuetude at 9:33 PM on September 28, 2010

Going by the location in your profile, I found this, from the University of Illinois Extension. Your local county extension office may have more information, as well.
posted by rtha at 10:31 PM on September 28, 2010

Ugg. If they have orange heads, they are June Bug larva. They were everywhere when I was a kid in Michigan. Now that I've got the shivers over with, what will you really gain by killing them? They're going to turn into beetles (in the fullness of time) and fly away. Then, they or their terrible, ugly, crunchy, poky kin, will lay eggs again and you will again have grubs. If you spray, there will be no terrible beetles emerging, but unless you continually spray, you will still again have grubs. I really can't see the point. Besides, if you kill them, what will your children have left to still give them the shivers at 44 years of age?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

What are the grubs doing that warrants their extermination?
posted by pompomtom at 11:13 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you poison the grubs, are there birds or other predators that will eat the poisoned grubs and be killed as well? Back in Oz, people poisoning cockchafer grubs in lawns took out a good few magpies as collateral damage.
posted by Logophiliac at 11:46 PM on September 28, 2010

Beneficial nematodes! Easy, super safe, and they work (or at least they did for our mega grub problem). Our garden center recommends this over poison and over the grub-killing fertilizers that you spread over the whole lawn.
posted by dayintoday at 4:16 AM on September 29, 2010

It's a little late for grub control in the midwest. There are ALWAYS going to be grubs in a lawn, they only become a problem if they reach a great enough density to sever your sod at the roots. Do you have any patches that you can pull up, kind of like carpet? If you have damage like that, then you could try applying some grub control. Otherwise, I would just let it go and apply at least one more round of winterizing fertilizer as well as some broadleaf weed control at this point.

Next year you can apply grub control earlier in the season if they appear to be a problem. Now, it's kind of like closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out. The damage that they're going to do has most likely already been done.

Grubs like soft soil and frequently irrigated lawns, so it is better to water deeply 2-3 times a week rather than everyday. That may discourage them a bit.

And if you do have dead patches from grubs, you can re-seed now with bluegrass. But you need to do it right away. It's too late for fescue, which is more prone to winter-kill. Make sure you have good seed-to-soil contact if you re-seed. Rent a seeder/slicer for very large areas.
posted by Ostara at 7:14 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you should be able to get nematodes from any garden centre (you can in Canada anyway). They kill the grubs and don't leave any poison to worry about.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:20 AM on September 29, 2010

Whatever you do, don't ignore them, unless you want raccoons and skunks digging up your lawn to root them out.
posted by rocket88 at 8:45 AM on September 29, 2010

My (New England) lawn's grub problem wasn't with the grubs themselves, but with the skunks etc. who tore up the lawn to get at the tasty grubby treats. I ordered nematodes online and sprayed them onto the lawn as directed, and it did seem to make a big difference. (Plus, it was really cool to see the tiny wriggling red thingies in the water before I sprayed.) This was in the spring, if I remember, so you may just want to wait it out over the winter when most of the critters hibernate and the lawn can't repair itself.
posted by chowflap at 9:00 AM on September 29, 2010

Thanks for the great advice. The birds are eating our grubs and we for sure don't want to poison them. I think we'll do a little damage control now and then spray with nematodes in the spring.
posted by debgpi at 9:02 PM on September 29, 2010

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