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Using Nematodes to Battle White Grubs in Lawns

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

White grubs have brown heads, are shaped like the letter "C", and love to munch on lawns. Also known as Japanese beetles, white grubs hide out below the soil line and chew on grass roots and organic materials that your lawn needs to thrive. They can live up to three years, gnawing away at the hard work you've put into your lawn.

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You'll find them in early spring and the fall by cutting a three- or four-inch deep square of sod. Homeowners usually respond with full battle regalia, including insecticide granules and sprayers. That may be your best recourse, but researchers at the University of California, Davis campus have found that you can fight off grubs with nematodes.

Using Nematodes on Your Lawn

When you introduce specific nematodes into your soil, you're fighting nature with nature. These multi-celled organisms are tube-shaped critters that feed on--you guessed it--white grubs. If you want to try them, be sure to select "beneficial" nematodes from a lawn care supplier. The right ones not only kill grubs, they feed on cutworms, caterpillars, rootworms, fungus gnats, June bug larva, and even pet fleas.

When you buy from a supplier, the nematodes arrive alive and kicking in plastic bags that can be refrigerated up to a month. Nematodes don't much like heat, moisture, or sunlight. When you're ready to use them (preferable in the spring or fall), apply the nematodes with a conventional lawn sprayer, shaking the container frequently since the little creatures can settle at the bottom.

You'll want to complete the application late in the afternoon or early evening since nematodes are easily weakened by direct sunlight. It's important to water the nematodes down into the soil after spraying them on.


University of California Insect Pest Management

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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