Environmentally Safe Grub Control


It seems like all the lawns around here are infested with grubs this year. Is there an environmentally safe way to control and kill them?


Hardiness Zone: 6a

Betty from Middletown, NY



The grubs most damaging tend to be the grubs from Japanese Beetles, June Beetles and European Chafer. Here are some environmentally friendly strategies for controlling them.

1. A healthy lawn is your best defense, so over-seed your lawn to keep it nice and thick. Also, the more healthy your lawn, the less damaged it will appear. Avoid grass mixes with weak roots like Kentucky Blue Grass.

2. Attract more grub-eating birds to your yard with water, nesting and feeders. Certain species of birds, like European starlings, blue-jays, purple martins, crows, grackles, meadowlarks, cardinals, blackbirds and robins all eat grubs. Starlings, robins and cardinals will also eat adult Japanese beetles. You can run a rake over infected areas to help turn up emerging grubs for visiting birds.


3. Raising the deck on your lawnmower will encourage more spiders and ants, both of which will help control the grub population.

4. Hand pick the adult Japanese beetles. To identify adult Japanese beetles, look for 3/8-inch long metallic green beetles with copper-brown wing covers. They can be distinguished from other similar looking beetles by the five small white tufts that project from under the wing covers on each side, and a sixth pair at the tip of the abdomen.

5. I've never tried this, but certain flowers that contain geraniol, like white geraniums, 4 o'clocks (mirabilis), larkspur, red and dwarf buckeye and castor bean plants are supposed to attract and poison adult Japanese beetles. If nothing else, they may attract the pests to one area where you can spray them with a soapy insecticide or remove them by hand.


6. Apply Parasitic Nematodes. Upon penetrating a grub, the nematode inoculates the grub with the bacteria. The bacteria reproduce quickly, feeding on the grub tissue. The nematode then feeds on this bacteria and progresses through its own life cycle, reproducing and ultimately killing the grub. Heterorhabditis bacteriophora is a type of commercially available nematode for grubs.

7. Milky Spore. This is a bacterium that once ingested by grubs, builds up in their blood, eventually causing their death. It's considered a long term solution and is usually used in areas experiencing severe infestations. Its needs to be applied over the course of a couple of seasons (2-4 years) in order for it to build up in the soil. After that, it is supposed to last for a decade or longer. Ask your local garden center or extension office where to get milky spore in your area.


Good luck!


About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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April 24, 20060 found this helpful

I had a friend who swore by the spike kind of lawn aerator. Her husband used it behind the mower every time he mowed, and they really saw a decrease in grubs; and their lawn was lush by the end of the summer.

Drawbacks: requires a riding lawn mower; and initial cost. However, they're not that expensive, and if the entire neighborhood is suffering, you may be able to find others willing to go in with you on the purchase.


If your yard is relatively small, drive some nails through small pieces of boards, then strap them to your feet (nails down) and stomp around in the infested areas. Make sure the nails are long enough to pierce down to where the grubs reside.

Repeat as often as is convenient.

If you find small holes in your lawn, it is likely skunks going after the grubs--this is a GOOD thing....just don't let Fido out unaccompanied after dark!

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April 24, 20060 found this helpful

Oh, one more thing; if you can identify the type of grub (your extension service can help); you can purchase beneficial nematodes that you apply with a sprayer. They're not inexpensive; but they are thrifty and very safe (to everything but the grubs); and they'll last longer than one season, I believe. I know Gardens Alive used to have them.

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By Patsy (Guest Post)
April 25, 20060 found this helpful

Use a beer bottle or pop can/bottle. Leave a little beer or pop in them. It appears these creatures love this stuff.


They crawl in & can't get out, so they drown. Yuk! But, it works. I used it in my organic garden. Good luck! Patsy

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April 27, 20060 found this helpful

I prefer to use Milky Spore for my grub control. This is primarily for the control of Japanese Beetle grubs and can be purchased in a good nursery or online. It should be applied in August although I have used it at other times. One application can last for many many years. For more immediate results and faster acting results, I use beneficial nematodes purchased from www.gardensalive.com. These will kill a wide variety of grubs.

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May 11, 20060 found this helpful

Basic H is an organic cleaner made by Shaklee with NO phosphates, that makes water "wetter", I throw out my mop water (2Tbls to 1 gallon water) on my flowers in front, and the soil stays damp up to three days with constant afternoon sun. It can also retard whitefly and aphids, and even smaller concentrations KILL ANTS!!!! It will not harm birds or animals, but I strongly reccommend not to use to clean anything with fish in it, as it makes the water heavy, and can "drown" fish. IF you'd like more information, please email me at healthy_home101@hotmail.com, and I can send you some great tips about it! I posted it in the "Green" section, but the ratios didn't convert from my email program to the post. Or contact a Shaklee Distributor in your area through the phone book or www.shaklee.net God Bless!

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