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So you think you have Lawn Grubs?

So you think you or more specifically, your lawn may have the displeasure of being eaten and chomped upon by nasty little Lawn Grubs? The horrid evil nasty beasties or “caterpillars” as they are known by small children, love nothing more than to eat all your beautiful lawn that you love so much.

So what is a Lawn Grub?

Unfortunately it is not dirty little kids playing on your lawn. A Spodoptera Maurita or Lawn grubs or Army Worms, start their life as a little egg. Laid by a mummy moth in various little crevices around your home and surrounds, to keep their eggs safe from the elements. Mummy moths can lay up to 500 eggs per night for several consecutive nights, in places like pegs; Garage door dips; Fly screens; Eaves; Windows of cars; And worst still your clothes.

You may have seen the moths flying around your lawn, or home. And thought “oh, how lovely.” But not lovely dear reader. Oh No. They are not a nice butterfly just fluttering along. They are strong warriors dropping their egg bombs ready to explode and release their hunger on your lawn.

Or, if you are one of those wonderful “Always look on the bright side of life people”, you can see it as a compliment. The mummy moths find the best lawns with the tastiest feeds for her children, to lay their eggs near.

But how did the horrid beasts go from little fluffy cloud like egg sacks into your lawn you ask? Well the eggs hatch at night, and the grubs zip line to the ground via a thin silk like thread. Or they dislodge the thread from the eggs sack and float away on the wind, like a paratrooper, to your lawn to discover the magical land of plenty. You might wonder how big are they when they hatch. As small as this.

This is a close up photo of them falling down thin silk from their eggs on a garage door at night.

How do you know if there are even of the little creepy crawlies around? Well firstly your lawn might start looking like this?

Or This? A surprise underneath when you mow.

Or you could come out at night to see these crawling around?

But if you have an exciting life, are busy and have not found the time to inspect your lawn at night time, throw a towel on your lawn over night. In the moring come out and slowly raise the towel to see what is lurking underneath.

Being nocturnal, the Army Worm will only show itself on the surface in the dark. So by tricking the not so clever when it comes to body clocks Army worms, into thinking it is still night time with the cover of darkness of a towel, you can see if there are nasty grubs in your lawn with a invigorating cup of coffee in hand. When you lift the towel up, you can see if there is any caterpillar action going on.

Most of the consuming of your beautiful lawn will happen when the caterpillar is tiny. The little teeniest tiny itty bitty little bug will fall through the cracks in your lawn and munch and munch and munch. And then grow and grow and grow to become about 40mm long.

When they have had their fill, they will burry down into the soil, right down about 80mm deep to pupate into mummy and daddy moths. And then the whole process begins again. And all this takes mere weeks. Mere weeks to destroy a beautiful lush healthy lawn.

So what can you do about it?

The eggs are your first battle in the war against the infestation of Army Worms, Lawn Grubs or Spodoptera Maurita in your lawn.

Get out your bucket of soapy water, a cloth or scrubbing brush. These are your first weapons. Wash these little egg sacks off. Squish them as you do. Clean away any of the eggs. And keep an eye out for anymore.

In your actual lawn though, there are three things you can do about it.

One. Do nothing. And watch your investment of time, money, love, sweat, and sometimes tears, be eaten by tiny monsters. And give up on having a beautiful lawn. It may come back after the lawn grubs have eaten everything green and then moved on. But most likely not.

Two. Go Biological. This is path the Coastal Turf has taken on our farm. We use Endopathogenic Nematodes as part of our IPM ( Integrated Pest Management) to consume the grubs. We have found that the use of these even scarier bugs (upon researching into the Endopathogenic Nematodes I have never had so many nightmares), eat the lawn grubs from the inside.

Our experts on the farm have the knowledge and the know how to keep our little Nematodes alive to kill any invaders that may slip through our watchful eyes. It is not easy. Although the Nematodes are ferocious, they are fickle animals. The soil must be at the perfect moisture levels. It cannot be too hot. And application can only be at night as well, because the Nematodes do not react well to UV light. It’s kind of like releasing “The Baby” from “The Croods.” Vicious and unstoppable, but still needs to be mollycoddled.

All in all, although the Nematodes are really effective, and under and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) approach, work wonderfully and at a fraction of the cost, when applied professionally. But it is not really for the everyday man.

Once you have found that you have Lawn Grubs, it is usually because you have plague proportions in your lawn. It is because they have eat you out of lawn and green grass. The Nematodes work slowly and carefully, meticulously working their way through to kill all curl like grubs. Which is great when in a professional situation you have the grubs under a watchful eye so they do not affect your product. But in a lawn situation, you needs those little bastards dead quickly.

Three. Chemical Control.

This is the most effective and least time consuming control of a Lawn Grub infestation. Especially on a domestic situation. And in the warfare against evil Lawn Grubs, you need a fast complete kill. But please be careful when applying any chemicals around your home. They are still chemicals and do require you to use some PPE (personal protection equipment). If ever in doubt, call in a professional.

There are two different very effective chemical components that kill lawn grubs. Chlorpyrifos or chlorantraniliprole. Chlorpyrifos is the active ingredient in products such as our Amgrow Patrol Ant and Army Worm Killer. Chlorantraniliprole is active in products like Acelepryn.

Before we moved onto Nematodes, we used products like Chlorpyrifos on the farm. This chemical is great at killing grubs fast. But it is an insecticide. And can cause some of the Good Bugs to be affected. So please use only the amount that is listed on the back of the label.

Lawn grub controls can come in a liquid form to be applied with a spray pack at night, or in sand granulated form. If you choose to spray, check your spray pack for any leaks. You do not want to be walking around with chemical leaking down your back. When you mix the chemical in the pack wear gloves that cover up your arms, and pour the chemical in first. Add a squish of dishwashing liquid to help the chemical stick to the leaf, and then add the water, gently. We always recommend using breathing protection as well.Like a face mask. It is part of our Work Place Health and Safety.

It is preferable if you also add a little colourant to the spray, like the ColourMaxx . A dark green is nice. Not only does it show you where you have sprayed, but also gives you a little hope that the lawn will return to being really green. Head out at dust and while wearing covered shoes and pants, and face mask, spray the lawn in a backward and forward motion. Try to ensure no areas are missed and that the spray is getting right down into the thatch of your lawn.

I think for home use the sand granulated form is safer for you to apply. The sand is sprinkled across your lawn and then given a slight spray with the hose to activate. The sand usually comes on shaker bottles. Our Patrol bottles have a child proof lid. Which can be tricky to get off. Squeexe the edges and then with covered shoes walk along and sprinkle the sand over your lawn. This means that you have no real contract with the chemical. But wearing shoes just gives you that peace of mind. Once you have spread the sand across your entire lawn, get your hose out and give it a quick water. Easy as that.

After you have activated the sand with the water, stay off for a day or so with bare skin and animal paws. Sometimes it can cause a reaction. The sand will sink to where the evil grubs are and start to eliminate your problems in your lawn. Then sit back and relax. Knowing that your lawn is once again protected.

The Patrol causes a bad reaction in the grub, and well, make them explode. It kills them. Very dead. Often there is nothing left for the birds or wasps to eat.

With all the chemicals just remember you should protecting yourself first. Apply at the rate prescribed on the box, and wear PPE. Keep yourself and loved ones with bare skin away from your lawn for a few days.

In 10 days after you have waged war against the Army worm and won, check that reinforcements have not been called in to eat again. Place the towel on the lawn over night again and check in the morning.

If you see the reinforcements, check for eggs, and possibly think about changing the way you applied the chemical. Switch to a sand granulated or ensure you spray at dusk.

Now is the time to start repairing your lawn. Give our lawn experts at Coastal Turf another call or send us an email and we can talk you through the best fertilisers to make your lawn look stunning again. Maybe even a little better.

And return to a lawn that looks like this. Ahh. Sigh. Just makes you happy hey?