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Grub Identification In Florida

Identifying Grubs in Florida

grub worm in the soil

Lawn pests are everywhere. Sometimes, the most infamous pests are lurking just beneath the surface. Grubs, the larval stage of various beetle species, may be quietly causing havoc on your Florida lawn. 

These voracious insects feed on the roots of grass, leading to weak and unhealthy patches in your yard. But you don’t have to stand by and let grubs take over your yard — you can nip an infestation in the bud by recognizing signs of grubs and taking steps to prevent their spread.

Key Takeaways

  • Grubs are larvae that grow in and feed off nutrients in soil and grassroots. They may go through several life stages in your yard before maturing and repeating the cycle.
  • Grub activity can cause noticeable damage to lawns by weakening grass and harming plant life.
  • Recognizing grub activity helps homeowners implement effective control strategies. Likewise, proper lawn care and maintenance can reduce the risk of grub infestations.

What Are Grubs? What Do They Look Like?

A grub is not a species of insect. Instead, a grub is the larva of an insect, such as a beetle. Grubs are known to feed on grassroot and organic matter found in soil, but it can be hard to spot them even when you know where to look.

grub worm on the wood

An example of a C-shaped grub worm.

Since grubs can come from many types of insects, it helps to narrow your search to some of the most common types found in lawns.

  • Lawn Grub (White Grub): These white or cream-colored grub are usually about 1 inch long, with three pairs of legs and a brown head capsule. They’re the immature form of scarab beetles.
  • Chafers: These grubs are similar in appearance to white grubs but have a more distinctive curved, C-shaped body when disturbed.
  • Cutworm: A grayish-brown grub, often with dark markings along the body, measuring around 1-2 inches in length.

Grub Species Native to Florida

Florida’s warm, moist, and dynamic environment makes it an attractive home for all sorts of lawn pests. As a result, there are also some unique grubs in Florida that you should keep an eye out for. Some of the major species found in Florida include the:

  • Southern masked chafer (Cyclocephala lurida). These common grubs are whitish in color and are the primary culprits behind  lawndamage.
  • Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica). Though not as widespread, these beetles are known for their metallic green and copper-colored wings. Their C-shaped larvae are easy to distinguish from other grubs.
  • May/June beetles (Phyllophaga spp.). These critters are not as well-known as others, but their grubs have reddish-brown heads and can cause harm to grassroots and ornamental plants.
  • Ox beetle (Strategus Antaeus). These grubs can grow up to 2 inches long, making them more conspicuous than other species. You can usually find them in sandy soils.
  • Do mosquito control services work?

    When you choose to have professional mosquito control performed on your property, you will see a dramatic reduction in the mosquito populations around your yard.

    By maintaining monthly treatments, these results will continue. We are so confident in the effectiveness of our mosquito control programs that we guarantee them with free follow-up treatments if needed in-between regular services.

  • How do you control mosquitoes in the yard?

    At Native Pest Management, our technicians start their mosquito control service by inspecting your landscape for standing water. We then treat the standing water we find every month with biological larvicides to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

    Then, we perform a pet safe mosquito misting of the landscape to eliminate adult mosquitoes and prevent mosquitoes from finding harborage in your landscape. This guaranteed service should last approximately 30 days.

  • Can pest control get rid of mosquitoes?

    No pest control treatment will eliminate every mosquito on your property.

    However, with our two-step mosquito control service, we have been told by product manufacturers to expect a 90% reduction in the mosquito population.

    Since we believe in the effectiveness of our mosquito control programs, we guarantee them with free follow-up treatments if needed in-between regular services.

Understanding the Life Cycle of Grubs

Since grubs are essentially immature insects, they can grow and change quickly. They progress through different stages of their life cycles throughout the year, and identifying each can help you implement the best treatment practices. Let's take a look at the four main stages:

  1. Eggs: Female beetles lay their eggs in the soil during the summer months. They prefer moist and warm soil conditions for optimal development.
  2. Larvae: The eggs hatch into larvae, which grow and feed on organic matter in the soil, such as decaying plants and grassroots. Grubs cause the most damage to lawns and plants during this stage.
  3. Pupae: The larvae undergo three phases before transforming into pupae until metamorphosis occurs. Pupae are often located deeper in the soil.
  4. Adult Beetles: Once metamorphosis is complete, the adult beetles emerge from the soil, and the cycle begins anew.

It’s most important to target grubs that are in their larval stage and actively causing damage to your lawn. But you can prevent an infestation from brewing by removing eggs, pupae, and adult beetles; you just may have to adapt how you approach the situation.

Signs You May Have a Grub Problem

Grubs are tiny, but their impact is not. You might not be able to see these little critters crawling around easily, but you should be able to identify signs of their presence on your lawn.

1. Lawn Damage

One of the most common signs of grub damage is the presence of brown or yellow patches on the turf. These discolored areas are often irregular in shape and can spread if grubs continue feeding on the grassroots.

You can try the tug test to determine if white grubs are the culprit behind your lawn damage. Gently pull on the affected grass; if it comes up easily, like a carpet, it indicates that grubs have been feeding on the grassroots.

Another method to check for grub presence is to cut a small section of the affected turf, about a square foot, and lift it to examine the soil underneath. Look for the white, C-shaped grubs among the grassroots. A high grub population is usually characterized by finding more than five grubs per square foot.

2. Damaged Turfgrass

When white grubs feed on grassroots, they can cause lasting damage to the lawn's overall health. You might see signs of damage and decay in your turfgrass if you have a growing grub problem. Look for clues like these to spot damage before it becomes too severe:

  • Thinned and weakened grass: Grub-infested lawns have a reduced ability to take up water and nutrients due to severed roots. This can make grass thin, weak, and susceptible to diseases and pests.
  • Dead turf: As grubs continue feeding on grassroots, the affected patches may eventually die, leaving behind unsightly dead turf that needs to be replaced.
  • Uneven lawn surface: The presence of grubs can cause the lawn surface to become uneven and bumpy, as the turf with weakened roots can’t stay level with the surrounding healthier grass.

Grub-damaged turf is more vulnerable to invasion by other pests, such as weeds or insects, which can compound the damage and require additional treatment.

Grub Prevention Tips to Keep Your Home Safe

Keeping your lawn free from grubs can be challenging, but some preventative pest control techniques can help you keep those pesky pests in check. First and foremost, a well-maintained and healthy lawn is your best defense against grubs. Follow these lawn care practices to help prevent grub infestations:

  1. Never let grass grow too tall. Mow your grass at the proper height for your specific grass type to promote healthy growth.
  2. Water your lawn infrequently but deeply to encourage strong root systems less vulnerable to grub attacks.
  3. Aerate your lawn to improve drainage and discourage grubs from laying eggs.
  4. Investigate dead patches and signs of damage promptly. Consider using nematodes, bacterial treatments, or chemical insecticides to address signs of grubs before they multiply.

How to Get Rid of Grubs in Florida

Lawn grubs are notoriously sneaky. You might not notice they’re around until it’s too late to prevent their growth. But never fear — you can still use some simple DIY grub removal methods to keep things under control. If your infestation is mild or just beginning, you may be able to handle it on your own. However, recurrent or severe grub problems are likely best handled by a pest management professional.

Biological Control and Natural Predators

Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense. Enter biological control and natural predators. Here are a few non-toxic allies in the fight against grubs:

  • Milky Spore: This bacterium, available as a powder, specifically targets grub larvae and can provide season-long grub control. Apply it to your lawn for long-lasting, environmentally friendly grub management.
  • Nematodes: Beneficial nematodes can be added to the lawn to attack and kill grubs. These microscopic worms are a fantastic natural solution for controlling grub populations.

Chemical Control Methods

When prevention and natural methods aren't enough, chemical control can be an effective last resort to eliminate grubs from your Florida lawn. Try applying a chemical insecticide specifically designed for grubs, such as those containing imidacloprid or halofenozide. Apply these treatments when grubs are most active, typically during the early summer months.

Always follow label instructions and apply pesticides selectively to avoid harming beneficial insects. Remember that chemical control should be used as a final measure — trying preventative and natural removal techniques first is best.

When to Call Pest Control Experts

If your grub problem doesn’t respond to your control and prevention methods, or if grubs continue returning to your law, it’s probably best to seek the advice of a pest control professional. 

At Native Pest Management, we use environmentally-conscious pest control solutions to get to the root (no pun intended!) of the problem and eliminate grubs once and for all. 

Contact us today for a free quote or to learn more about your grub removal options. Let us take care of the hard work for you.

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