7 Signs Of Grubs In Lawn (And How To Get Rid Of Them)

Creating the ideal lawn is a popular hobby and aspiration, particularly in suburban suburbia. However, there are numerous factors that can hinder the efforts of the perfect lawn. 

Grubs in particular can wreak havoc causing a range of issues that are frustrating to deal with such as withering and discoloration.

Thankfully, these issues can be remedied. 

Read on to learn how to identify signs of grubs in your lawn, tips on how to remove them, and what to do to revive your lawn. 

Identifying Grub Presence (7 Indicators)

White grubs, also known as lawn grubs, are a common pest that can cause noticeable damage to properties. 

These beetles have a ravenous appetite and can rapidly multiply.

Within a short period of time, the C-shaped larvae can burrow under the surface of the lawn and feed on grass roots and organic matter in the soil. This eventually leads to weakened and dead areas of grass. 

Grubs that develop into adult beetles will lay eggs in the soil, perpetuating the cycle of damage to your property.

The following signs indicate that you may have a grub infestation.

1. Visible Grubs

If you suspect there are grubs in the lawn, the most reliable way to confirm it is by finding the larvae themselves. 

While it may take some effort, you can check for grubs by inspecting the soil during their active period from late summer to fall. 

Using a shovel, dig up a section of the lawn that is 1 foot wide and 2 to 4 inches deep in a few different spots to determine the severity of the issue.

Once you’ve removed the section of soil, break it apart and search for grubs. Grub worms can be identified by their off-white color, brown heads, chubby bodies, and three pairs of legs. When exposed, they typically curl up into a C-shape. 

If you find 5 or fewer grubs in each sample, there’s no need to worry – this is considered typical. 

However, if you notice greater than five grubs per square foot in your lawn, it may indicate an infestation.

2. Grass Vulnerability

Grubs feeding on grass roots can weaken the plant’s ability to withstand drought, heat, and nutrient deficiencies. 

This is because the roots become shorter or damaged and are unable to properly absorb water and minerals. Increased watering and fertilizing can help mitigate this issue.

3. Patches Of Dead Grass

When feasting on grass roots, grubs can wreak havoc on your yard, resulting in unsightly yellowing or browning, as well as the emergence of dead patches all over. 

Proper lawn care and protection from environmental stress can prevent grub-damaged roots from affecting the healthy appearance of your lawn.

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It may sound counterintuitive, but some studies suggest that damaged roots can actually absorb more moisture and nutrients, which could explain why the lawn’s healthy foliage remains unaffected despite grub damage.

4. Spongy Spots

In some cases, grubs consuming grass roots may not immediately affect the color of your lawn. 

However, if you notice a sudden and significant decline in the overall health of your lawn, it may be a sign of larvae eating the roots. The grubs can damage the roots, causing the soil structure to weaken and become less stable. 

One of the symptoms of this is a spongy surface when walking over the affected areas.

5. Turf-Like Grass

Neglecting to take action when you first notice spongy areas in your yard can have disastrous consequences. The grubs can proliferate and persist in consuming the roots, causing even more destruction to your lawn.

Eventually, the grass will become so detached from the soil that it can be easily rolled up, revealing the larvae just beneath the surface. 

6. Moth Presence

The sight of small moths fluttering around your lawn, landscaping, and garden beds can serve as a warning sign for an impending grub invasion. 

These moths are egg-laying mature grubs scouting for a lush, healthy lawn to provide a suitable habitat for their offspring. 

Once the eggs hatch, you’ll observe an increase in grub activity as they start to feed on the grass in the coming days and weeks.

7. Other Feasting Critters

Another indication that your lawn may have a grub infestation is a sudden increase in the number of critters, such as birds, armadillos, ants, skunks, moles, and more invading your lawn.

While it’s true that these animals feed on grubs, they can also cause damage to your lawn by creating holes, digging through compost and trash, or loosening sponge-like grass even further.

This video further demonstrates how to identify grub presence in the lawn:

Ways To Get Rid Of Grubs (Natural & Chemical)

It’s important to apply the appropriate insecticide or alternative treatment at the right time to effectively control grubs. 

It’s a common misconception among homeowners that the summer season is the ideal time to seek grub control services to get rid of these pests from their lawns and gardens. 

Applying tactics too early or too late in the season may not be as effective in controlling grubs. The timing of the application will depend on the species of grub and the climate of the region. 

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It’s best to consult with a local lawn care professional or extension office to determine the appropriate timing for grub control in your area if in doubt.

Know When To Get Rid Of Grubs

Although grubs are more active during the warmer months, their peak feeding season occurs during the fall. 

As winter draws near, grubs increase their feeding to build up their energy reserves before burrowing deeper into the soil to survive the freezing temperatures.

Hence, it’s important to detect and eliminate these larvae before they cause significant damage to your property.

Typically, there’s a brief time frame during early spring when one can apply the treatment before the grubs grow too large and undergo pupation. However, this period is narrower, and accurately timing the application can be challenging.

Here are some ways to get rid of grubs in your lawn, using natural or chemical methods.

Natural Methods For Getting Rid Of Grubs

Natural Predators

Invite birds into your yard with birdbaths and bird feeders to reduce grub populations. Be aware that birds may create holes or other damage in the lawn as well.

Reduce Moisture

Limit watering in early summer when beetles lay eggs and then their larvae hatch. This can create unfavorable conditions for grubs.

Apply Neem Oil

This organic pesticide can kill grubs in their early life stages. Please note neem oil does not work well against adult beetles. 

Spray the grass with a neem and water solution in early summer when eggs and larvae are present.

Use Borax

This compound is an excellent option to kill grubs, but it can also kill your grass in the process. This method should be reserved for use if other methods have been tried. 

Mix borax with a little bit of warm water and apply the solution where larvae are active.

Follow its usage information and keep it out of the reach of small children and pets.

Dethatch Or Aerate The Lawn

Grubs prefer unaerated, thatched lawns, so get rid of this environment by dethatching and aerating the lawn regularly.

This can be done in the spring or spring and fall.

Add Nematodes

These tiny worms can eliminate grubs. 

Purchase them at a local garden center. Then release these beneficial creatures into the ground. 

It is best to add them 2 to 3 times a year for optimal results.

Chemical Methods For Getting Rid Of Grubs

When using chemical methods, follow all safety and precaution information. Make sure you know your local and state regulations for the use of pesticides. 

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Keep in mind that when you kill grubs and other insects with chemicals birds can experience secondary poisoning when they consume poisoned food sources. 

Refer to professional pest control services if in doubt about the best chemical methods to use. 


Opt for products that contain diazinon, carbaryl, and trichlorfon.

These can reduce the grub population without damaging the lawn.

Preventative Products

Products containing thiamethoxam, imidacloprid, or clothianidin can keep your lawn protected from grub damage.

Caring For The Lawn After Getting Rid Of Grubs

After getting rid of grubs in the lawn, it’s important to care for your lawn properly to prevent further infestations and to promote healthy growth. 

Here are some tips:

  • Water: Water your lawn deeply and infrequently, about 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
    • This is to encourage deep root growth and prevent shallow root systems that are susceptible to grub damage.
  • Mow: Mow your lawn regularly, but don’t cut it too short. 
    • Keep your grass at a height of at least 2 to 3 inches to promote healthy growth and shade the soil, which will help prevent weed growth and grub damage.
  • Fertilize: Fertilize your lawn with a slow-release fertilizer to provide nutrients over time and promote healthy growth.
  • Drainage: Aerate the lawn to improve drainage and to help the roots receive nutrients and water more effectively.
  • Reseed: Reseed bare or damaged spots in the lawn to encourage healthy growth and to fill in any areas where the grass may have died due to grub damage.
  • Monitor: Monitor your lawn regularly for signs of new grub infestations or other lawn problems, and take action quickly to address any issues that arise.

In Conclusion

To deal with grubs in your lawn, early detection is key. 

Look out for signs of infestation, such as visible grubs, dead patches of grass, and an increase in critters. 

Natural methods, like inviting birds and using beneficial nematodes, can help control the population, while chemical treatments may be necessary for severe cases. 

To prevent future infestations, maintain a healthy lawn and avoid over-watering.

Lucy Young

Meet Lucy, a seasoned gardener with a green thumb and a wealth of experience cultivated over 10 years in her own backyard oasis. Now, she channels her passion into writing, sharing invaluable gardening knowledge on her website. From nurturing plants to expert pruning techniques, Lucy's articles are a treasure trove for both seasoned enthusiasts and budding gardeners. Join her on this leafy journey as she sprinkles insights, tips, and tricks to help you create your own flourishing paradise. Get ready to dig into her gardening wisdom and unlock the secrets of a thriving garden!

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