How to Kill Grubs: Local Gardening Expert Outlines Fight Plan

Paulette Ball, a lawn and garden supervisor at Alsip Home & Nursery, offers tips for homeowners on the subject of how to kill grubs and deal with Japanese beetles.

In the annual backyard fight against pesky grubs and Japanese beetles, Paulette Ball has come to be viewed as a heavyweight champion. She has worked at Alsip Home & Nursery in Frankfort for the last five years.

During that time, she thought she had seen and heard it all—until this spring.

“The grubs are already close to the surface,” Ball said. “Usually, this doesn’t happen until around Mother’s Day. This is a very strange spring.”

Ball, a lawn and garden supervisor, recommends customers hit grubs hard now—with a right and a left. She offers these tips:

1. Apply a 24-hour grub kill product such as Bayer Advanced Grub Killer Plus.

“That’s going to get the ones that are up close to the surface,” she said. “Usually, they don’t put this down until May. Same thing with the GrubEx and the season-long (products). But, if we put these down too early, you’re going to have to do a second application.”

2. Apply a season-long grub control product. Wait until Mother’s Day to tackle this chore. Ball’s best bets: Bayer Advanced Season-Long Grub Control, Scott’s GrubEx.

3. Or go with a more eco-friendly approach.

Ball suggests using St. Gabriel’s Milky Spore, a product that comes in a powder or granule form. She said the powder goes on with one application. Granules are applied three time—once each on the three big summer holidays, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

“It’s great stuff,” Ball said. “It’s like little Pac Men that go through the soil—chew, chew, chew, chew.”

To identify grub infestation, she said to look for wilting grass or brown spots in the lawn. Pull back the turf and look for beetle larvae. Ball said 100 Japanese beetles can lay 5,000 grubs in the soil in one season.

Grubs cause damage by eating grass roots. Adult Japanese beetles attack shade trees—particularly dark-leaved trees such as lindens—shrubs, fruit trees, flowers and some vegetables. The beetles eat leaves off the plants and turn trees lacey.

“The past couple years—I think it’s because of the hard frosts we’ve been having—they haven’t been that bad,” Ball said. “This year we didn’t get a lot of hard frost. I have a feeling they’re going to be bad again.”

Ball is an organic gardener—by choice.

“Well, I figure for years and years and years, people have been putting chemicals into the earth,” she said. “Now it’s time to give back. I want things to be there for my grandchildren and their kids.

“So, it’s a big thing in my family. We all do organics so we can bring everything back to the way it used to be.”


Frank DeVries April 05, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I have 350 roses in my back yard and prior to putting down milky spore I had thousands of japanese bettles eating my roses.Since Ive had just a few stop by and those I do put in a jar of soapy water. Milky spore if the label is read tells you the first year you wont see much difference but the second year an extreme reduction in the amount of bugs The milky spore keeps growing with the number of grubs it devours,it harms nothing . These are microbes that normally are in the soil but are depleted over time.When you treat your lawn they will travel the neighborhood and do their work, and build up the microbes to keep the grubs out of your lawn vs using chemicals year after year the milky spore is use it one year and you are good for many years to come.
Jan shelton April 05, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Oh boy, I had tons of Japanese Beatles 2 years ago. Then I heard I should plant garlic under my roses. The Beatles hate the smell I guess. It worked like a charm!
Ron Kremer April 05, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Frank: I haven't tried Milky Spore yet, but I'm thinking why not take a shot. I have grubs digging up my lawn under my linden trees and chewing leaves off my garden vegetables. Thanks for your insight!
mommaof3 April 06, 2012 at 03:45 AM
we use milky spore as well!!!!! love it!
Matthew S. Gustke June 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM
I have been very happy with milky spore for organic grub control. http://matthewgustke.com/2014/04/02/organically-controlling-tomato-hornworms-white-grubs/


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