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Insect pests are not just problematic within homes, but several species can cause problems within residential lawns as well. In the northeast US, several insect species cause damage to lawn-grass, garden plants, trees, shrubs and ornamental landscaping plants. Pest-induced lawn damage can be unsightly and expensive to correct, as replanting grass is sometimes necessary. Chinch bugs, aphids, ants and several species of beetle larvae, also known as grubs, are the most common yard pests in Massachusetts and other Northeast states.

Beetle larvae that are known as “white grubs” refer to several species that can be found in residential lawns in the northeast, including the Japanese beetle, the European chafer, the Asiatic Garden beetle, the Oriental beetle, and the June beetle. Whether you have experienced a lawn infestation before or not, you have likely encountered white grubs before. White grubs are, as their common name makes clear, strikingly white in body color, but they have a brown-head capsule and three pairs of legs. These insects are often found curled into a “C” shape. Grubs can be anywhere from one eighth of an inch to one full inch in length depending on the species. Identifying the species of grub infesting a lawn is essential for selecting the proper treatment method.

According to Dr. Pat Vittum at the University of Massachusetts, Japanese beetles are the most abundant grub species in Massachusetts, and they can be identified by their noticeable “V” shaped spines. The European chafer can be found in many areas of the northeast, but they are particularly active within the route 495 area of Massachusetts. This grub species can be identified by the distinctive “Y” shaped split at its tail end, as well as for its two sets of parallel spines. The Asiatic garden beetle grubs are notable for their spines that form a distinct semi-circle. These grub pests, and many others, damage and kill lawn-grass by feeding the roots, and they become problematic once the amount of grubs per square foot exceeds ten. Grub pests inflict damage to lawns during the spring, late summer and early fall seasons. Treating infested lawns with a bacterial spore known as “Bacillus popilliae” is often an effective treatment for grub infestations. Insecticides are also effective, but only at certain times of year, and this type of treatment is best carried out by a pest control professional.

Have you ever found white grubs on your lawn?