Field Insights Blog | GreenCast | Syngenta
Field Insights Blog | GreenCast | Syngenta

Treat for Grubs Now

Spring landscaping ritual often includes edging around beds prior to planting or mulching. Removal of the sod often reveals the presence of grubs. These whitish looking C-shaped guys with that remind us of potential turf problems that could occur in a few months. At this time (May) the grubs that are present will not feed on roots or cause turf damage.  Soon they will begin to move down into the soil, pupate and eventually emerge as adults later in the summer.


Photograph of a mature grub.


However, the presence of grubs at this time (if you are lucky enough to see them) is a great sign that controlling grub issues later in the season starts now. Several insecticides are available that can be applied now that provide for over 120 days of grub and other lawn insect pest control. One of these products is Acelepryn® , which gives season long control of grubs and has a very low risk use potential. Products like Acelepryn need to be applied early in the season (May) to be most effective.


Grub damage in late summer and early fall looks similar to drought injury.


Grub season traditionally begins August 1st in most of the Northern United States. Grubs can be controlled, if not now, by making applications shortly before August. These practices are predicated on controlling grubs when they first hatch and begin to actively feed on the turf roots. The premise is that at this time the grubs are small and actively feeding making control easier than when they mature later into the summer and early fall.


A sign of grub damage is if the turf can easily be peeled back like an old carpet.


Grub damage often appears off colored and progressively more like drought injury. If irrigation is added, the symptoms are only masked for a short time. Upon closer examination, if the turf is easily pulled back like carpet the appearance of grubs are often revealed. The reason the turf looks like it is suffering from drought is because the grubs have chewed away a majority of the root system reducing the ability of the plant to take up water.

Excessive damage of the turf may not only be directly due to the feeding of grubs, but also the presence of animals foraging and tearing up the turf looking for the grubs as a food source. These animals can include skunks, raccoons, and further south armadillos to name a few.


If grub populations are high, foraging animals like raccoons can cause damage looking for grubs.


To summarize, if grubs are a persistent problem controlling them now is much easier than waiting and running the risk that turf loss could occur from an ill-timed or forgotten treatment.

About the author

Dr. Karl Danneberger is a professor of Turfgrass Science at The Ohio State University. Dr. Danneberger's contact information can be found here. You may also follow Dr. Danneberger on Twitter:

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