This kind of damage in spring is the end result of hungry insects attacking lawns in the previous fall, and then raccoons and skunks digging up the lawn to look for them and eat them. Preventative grub control treatment and good lawn care practices can minimize the risk of this happening to you.
What does your lawn look like when you have Grub damage?
In the fall many Toronto and GTA lawns become prey to root-eating insects called white grubs. The targeted turf fades in colour as fall progresses and the injured roots cannot absorb nutrients or water properly. The damaged areas begin to feel soft and spongy underfoot and pull out easily (like carpet) because the cut roots can no longer hold the grass plants to the soil.
What do white grubs look like?
White grubs are the larva, or young, of several kinds of beetles. The European Chafer (Rhizotrogus majalis) and Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica) are two of the most common. The adults breed through the early Summer and lay eggs in your lawn, which hatch in mid- to late-August and begin to feed.
It gets worse
In the spring when food is scarce, scavenging animals like raccoons and skunks find grubs an easy source of nutrition. Since the grubs have eaten the roots, it is easy for the animals to roll your grass back like new sod, causing it even more damage. Even if you do not have many grubs in your lawn, these animals often dig in places they remember finding food before. Squirrels sometimes cause small fist sized dug up areas, however are rarely the cause of a ripped up lawn as they are mainly herbivores and will only eat insects if starved (which rarely happens with all the buds and seeds available in the spring)
How do I get rid of white grubs in my lawn?
Proactive Preventive care works best!
All lawns have some grubs. Damage happens if a lawn is weak, or the number of grubs is very high (more than five to ten per square foot on an average lawn). Watering for an hour and a half to two hours once a week and having your lawn professionally fertilized will make your grass grow deeper, stronger roots and regenerate injured roots faster. It will also increase your lawn’s tolerance level for grubs.
As well, LawnSavers can apply a natural control called predatory nematodes to your lawn starting around early September. These microscopic creatures are applied in the hundreds of millions and swim through moist soils and attack the grubs.
Digging animals can be deterred in many ways, from fencing to smells they don’t like. Many of our clients have told us they are having good luck with motion-activated sprinklers, such as the ‘Scarecrow’.
These techniques will minimize damage from white grubs. Nature being unpredictable, some may still occur, especially since skunks and raccoons are creatures of habit. Animals digging is a clue that you might have grubs, but not definitive proof as squirrels and other animals can scavenge and dig for reasons other than finding grubs.
If grub damage has occurred despite your best efforts, immediate repair is needed to prevent further problems later. Rake out any loose, dead grass and have your lawn care company do a core aeration and over seeding with proper species of grass. If animals have flipped up to grass when digging, don’t despair. Wet the flipped turf to soften it and roll it back into place – if your grass is generally healthy there is a good chance that if it is cared for it will re-root, just like sod.
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