Garden Grubs: How To Slay the Nasty Worms in Your Yard

Does your lawn have any dead or spongy patches of grass? They could be the work of garden grubs. Here’s how to spot them and banish them from your garden.


Have you noticed any dead or spongy patches of grass on your lawn lately? They could be the work of garden grubs. While these gross little wormlike creatures are harmless to humans, they may murder the heck out of your garden.

Brown grass or clusters of dead plants are always concerning for homeowners. But if you haven’t been hit with a nasty drought lately, or doused your lawn in toxic chemicals, you may be playing host to these unwelcome pests.

Here’s the low-down on everything you need to know about garden grubs, and how to kick them out of your yard.

What’s a garden grub?

garden grubs
Garden grubs feed on grass roots.

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Garden grubs are essentially baby beetles, but that doesn’t mean they’re cute. You’d probably prefer to see these writhing white larvae on the opposite end of a fishing pole.

“Lawn and garden grubs are juvenile scarab beetles,” says Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn. “They get into your lawn when an adult beetle lays eggs, usually a few inches into the soil. When they hatch and progress beyond the larval stage, they begin eating grass roots.”

But before you start googling “scarab beetle,” hear this. Scarab refers to the Scarabaeidae family of beetles, which has 30,000 species.

“There are many different kinds,” says Kristiana Kripena of InsectCop. “Most commonly encountered ones are the larvae of June bugs, European chafers, masked chafers, billbugs, Oriental beetles, and Japanese beetles.”

Whatever the type, without your own personal Timon and Pumbaa, you’ll need to mount a serious plan of attack to get rid of these grubs.

How do I know if I have grubs?

If you haven’t met the little buggers personally (which would be likely to happen as you are digging around in your lawn or garden) it can be hard to know for sure when you have them. Here are a few ways to identify these stealthy pests.

“Grubs always have a C-shaped body, brown head, and three pairs of legs,” says Gina Harper of Harper’s Nurseries. “Grubs feed on roots, so if you see [that] a patch of grass lifts without roots holding it down, or brown spots that never turn green and an increase in activity from birds, raccoons, and skunks—that means you have a grub problem.”

You should also become suspicious if you start seeing an increased beetle population in your yard, especially if your lawn starts mysteriously dying a year after you first spot them.

“Grub problems occur in a regular three-year cycle if not managed,” says Harper. “The most significant damage occurs the year after the appearance of

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