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Managing Kentucky’s Most Common Lawn Pest

With summer in full swing, lawn and garden care are top priorities for many homeowners. However, pests can be a real hinderance to the success and health of your lawn and garden. The most common lawn pest group in Kentucky are white grubs. While having some grubs in your lawn is normal, too many can make for dead turf by the end of summer, so it is important to know the signs of these pests and ways to prevent or control them to keep your lawn and garden in tip-top shape. 

The most common sign of white grubs is browning turf or turf that easily rolls back like a rug. Typically, the worst white grub damage happens in late summer or early fall, so make note of the time of year you’re seeing these signs to see if they align with white grub behaviors. 

If you do notice these signs during the peak grub damage times, you can check your turf to confirm that white grubs are the culprit. It is normal to find some grubs in your turf, however, eight or more grubs per square foot is a problem.

Identification of white grubs depends on the raster pattern, the arrangement of bristles and hairs on the underside of the tip of the abdomen. To see this pattern, you will likely have to use a magnifying glass. You can easily find charts for matching this pattern to a specific grub online. 

Preventative treatments are one option for controlling grubs, but you must apply them before damage occurs. The optimal time for applying preventive treatments to your lawn or garden is May to mid-July. 

Preventive grub insecticides include neonicotinoids like Imidacloprid (Merit), Clothianidin (Arena) and Thiamethoxam (Meridian) or anthranilic diamides like Acelepryn and GrubEx.

It is important to note that while Acelepryn is common for managing grubs, it is not a curative product; you should only use it in the preventative capacity.

You should apply rescue treatments only after damage has already occurred. Once grubs are large, you should not expect more than 75% control. There are a few products that you can try though like Dylox or Arena. 

For more information, contact the Butler County Extension Office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service at 102 Parkway Lane, Morgantown or by calling 270-526-3767.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Submitted By: Greg Drake II, County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources

Source: Jonathan Larson, UK entomology assistant professor of extension


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