Recently, I was watching Marvin dig a hole near my cherry tree for his “outdoor business.” Marvin is the oldest of the three cats who share my happy home. He unearthed a grub- a white worm-looking creature with a reddish head and legs on the front of its bloated body.
The size of the thing began to make me think of the Science Fiction movie “Tremors,” about huge worm-like creatures breaking through the earth to feast on anything that moves.
While the grubs in my yard may never reach that status, they are detrimental to the root systems of grass, trees and food garden plots. Time to act.
Unfortunately, having a permanent grub free yard won’t happen. However, their population can be controlled.
Here are four ways to control grubs in your yard or garden.
This is the slowest method, and involves physically digging, sifting dirt, and taking the grubs out by hand. I’m wearing gloves when I handle them. They don’t bite; their soft bodies feel gross to me.
I drop them in a bucket with water, in the bird water dish or toss them out into the street. Okay, the last is somewhat cold. The Texas sun cooks them or the cars squish them. The birds sometimes swoop down for a free meal, too. I have never found grubs in the bird water dish the next day. I never try to find out why. They can’t swim or crawl out.
This is by far the easiest way I have found. BT is a beneficial bacterium that attacks and kills soft-bodied insects such as grubs, webworms, tomato hornworms, etc. They will not harm earthworms or good bugs.
I mix two teaspoons of BT into my half-gallon sprayer and give the garden beds and the area around my tree trunks a good spray once a month. I follow that with a good watering to get the mix to the target insects.
Before planting in a new area, I treat the area with the mix. I have never lost a crop to grubs doing this.
BT will not harm birds, pets or humans. Do wash your hands after spraying, though.
Milky Spore- Paenibacillus popilliae
This is another beneficial bacterium that sets its sights on grubs. It causes “Milky Spore Disease” to any grub in the lawn and reproduces in the gut of the insect. When the grub dies, more spores released into the soil help to eliminate the problem.
It takes from seven to twenty-one days for the grub to die, although they do die. The bacterium is not harmful to pets, birds or humans.
Commercial chemical controls
A multitude of products have been produced and released for grub control in the United States. A judicious study of the label will inform the potential customer whether the product is safe for vegetable or fruit plants. It will also reveal potential toxicity to pets, birds or humans.
Since nearly every product I have looked too closely at carries a warning about exposure or “not for use on plants intended for food,” I pass. My primary use is to protect my food plants, not poison myself.
Ask any landscaping service what product they use for grub control in your landscaping. If they are not willing to change to something non-toxic to your pets or family, look for a new service.
Grub control products are available in DIY, big box stores, gardening centers and online. Compare prices to obtain the best bargains.