0713OSUgrubsarentgroovyko.cfm Grubs aren't so groovy
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Grubs aren't so groovy


If you live on a street corner with a light, have floodlights, or any kind of major outdoor lighting, you know when the June beetles have emerged. The lights serve as a singles bar, if you will, to attract a mate. My light happens to be very close to my vegetable garden. This explains why I've seen an abundance of grubs as I dig for potatoes.

White grubs are the immature form of the common May/June beetles or the masked chafer, the latter being smaller and light colored. White grubs are 'C' shaped, with a white body and light brown head. They feed on roots of plants and decayed organic matter in the soil. The damage is most noticeable on turf type grasses in lawns, causing irregular dead patches. In heavily infested areas, the roots may be completely destroyed, allowing the grass to be rolled back with minimal effort. The most damage is done by white grubs in March and April. But, damage can also be seen in September and October when the grubs are reaching maturity and the growth of the grass is gradually slowing down. If you have questions about white grub damage, call a Master Gardener at 405-321-4774.

Adult beetles emerge from the soil in May or June to mate. After mating, the females return to the soil to lay eggs. The larvae (grubs) are hatched from eggs three to four weeks later and feed in the upper layers of the soil on plant roots. The larvae will then migrate lower in the soil profile to pupate and overwinter. Most adult beetles emerge again in May or June to mate and start the process over again. Adults can emerge as early as April and continue until September.

July through August is the ideal time to treat for white grubs, since they are closer to the soil surface and also younger (1/2-inch in length or less), thus more susceptible to chemicals. If you are unsure if you need to treat for white grubs, there is a really handy method you can use: If you notice a lot of May/June beetles around your outdoor lights, wait about five weeks afterward and sample the soil. Dig a 1-foot square just removing the layer of turf. Grubs should be noticeable just under the grass layer. If you count more than five grubs in the square, then treatment is recommended. Several products are available for white grub treatment, including those containing imidacloprid, carbaryl, halofenozide, chlorantraniliprole, triclorfon, and clothianidin. Be sure and water thoroughly after treatment and always read the chemical label for instructions and additional information.

Access our Fact Sheets online at: osufacts.okstate.edu.

For more information, call the Cleveland County OSU Extension office at 405-321-4774 or come by our office at 601 E. Robinson St. in Norman.

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