Winter lawn and its hidden residents

Posted on July 1, 2020 by Ashlee Hall

As the seasons turn colder and your lawn turns to a dormant or semi-dormant state, it is important to get on top of what may be a future infestation. Lawn grubs or beetles are a major pest that can cause untold damage to your lawn. Thankfully they are (much like your lawn) mostly dormant during the colder months, but it's never too early to ensure your lawn is as healthy and pest free as possible.

Winter lawn and its hidden residents
Photo courtesy of Lawn Solutions Australia.

The lifecycle of a lawn grubs is relatively straight forward, the warmer months (starting around September) promoting eggs and larvae, with the colder months (beginning around May) killing off the young and leaving the adults to lie dormant. The pupal stage is not too much of an issue, however, the larvae stage is when they begin to feed on the roots of your lawn and start to cause serious damage. Root feeding grubs are sometimes known as white curl grub, scarab beetle larvae, lawn beetle larvae or cockchafer and are regularly mistaken for the Aussie icon: the ‘witchetty grub’.

Now, not all lawns are at risk of major damage from these lawn grubs. Fescue, Kikuyu or Couch varieties are particularly susceptible to lawn grubs, with large scale infestations sometimes causing irreparable damage if not treated in a timely manner. Conversely, buffalo varieties can benefit from small scale infestations as the aeration of the soil promotes more vigorous growth. Naturally, the larger the infestation the greater the opportunity for long term damage so ensure you are keeping a close eye if you are trying to get the grubs to do the aeration dirty work for you.

Unfortunately, lawn grubs have impeccable taste. They will often only go for the healthiest and most lush lawns, so if you pride yourself on your green patch ensure you are being vigilant in your preparedness. Prevention is always the best way to ensure your lawns health, and lawn grub prevention is a relatively straight forward process. A well aerated and healthy lawn will naturally be more resistant to damage and bounce back quicker if infested. Additionally, when mowing set your lawn height a little longer than normal. Lawn grubs love planting their eggs right at the soil so longer leaves will deter them from laying in your lawn. Birds also love the juicy larval grubs, so planting flowers and plants that promote native birds to frequent your backyard can greatly help remove the pesky grubs.

If you do have an infestation and want it cleared out ASAP, the best option is to use a pesticide that contains Chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos can be found in many easily available insecticides and is incredibly efficient in the treatment of lawn grubs. You should exercise caution when using any product with Chlorpyrifos however, as it can be toxic to both children and animals. To try and combat this, it is recommended that you apply these kinds of insecticides in the late afternoon, as well as keep a watchful eye over your lawn to try and prevent any unfortunate accidents post application. Additionally, when laying turf consider adding some chemicals or products which are natural grub repellants, however most only last for 3-6 months so ongoing prevention is paramount.

Lawn grubs can be a frustrating pest, a lawn killer or sometimes even a minor lawn help. Thankfully, prevention is a process that should fall easily within your regular lawn maintenance routine and will help ensure a lush green lawn in every season. Give Rosemount Turf a call for further assistance.

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