How to get rid of grubs in the lawn

The presence of white grubs in the lawn is a real headache for gardening enthusiasts. These larvae, stemming from beetles or chafers, feed on the roots of the grass, causing yellowing, weakening, and in the most severe cases, the death of your lawn. Fortunately, it is possible to effectively fight these pests while respecting the environment. In this complete guide, we explain how to detect their presence and share tips for treating a white grub infestation.

What are the common types of white grubs in Canada?

In Canada, several types of white grubs can be found, but the most common is the larva of the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica), closely followed by the larvae of various species of chafers, notably the European chafer (Melolontha melolontha) and the June beetle (Amphimallon solstitiale).

Among these species, the Japanese beetle is particularly concerning due to its ability to cause significant damage both at the larval and adult stages.

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

  • Impact in Canada: Since its introduction to North America, the Japanese beetle has proven to be a significant pest, affecting a wide range of host plants. The larvae feed on the roots of grass, severely damaging lawns, golf courses, and farmlands, while adults can defoliate a large number of species of ornamental and cultivated plants.


  • The larvae of chafers, though less publicized than the Japanese beetle, also pose a threat to lawns and Canadian green spaces. Their presence is often detected by the appearance of yellowed and weakened areas in the lawn, where the roots have been consumed.

Accurately determining the species of white grubs present is crucial for choosing the most effective control method, given that the life cycle and susceptibility to different treatments can vary significantly between species.

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The life cycle of chafer and beetle larvae

  • Egg Laying: At the start of the summer, adult females lay their eggs in the soil. These eggs are typically deposited in groups in well-sunned areas where the soil is rich and moist, ideal for larval development.
  • Larvae (White Grubs): After hatching, the eggs give rise to larvae, commonly called white grubs due to their cream color and soft, C-shaped bodies. This larval phase usually lasts between one and three years, depending on the species. During this time, the young larvae actively feed on plant roots, including grass, which can cause significant damage.
  • Pupa: At the end of their last larval stage, the white grubs burrow deeper into the soil to pupate. This transition phase between larva and adult typically occurs in a hidden, underground chamber.
  • Adult: In the spring or early summer following, the insect emerges from the soil as an adult. The adult chafers or beetles then feed on tree and shrub leaves for a few weeks before beginning the reproductive cycle by laying eggs.

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What attracts chafers and Japanese beetles around the garden?

Chafers and Japanese beetles are attracted to gardens by a combination of factors, including the availability of food sources, light, and climate conditions. These insects find an abundant feast in gardens, thanks to the variety of plants, flowers, and herbs that make up their diet. The adults feed on leaves, flowers, and sometimes fruits, while the larvae, especially those of chafers, attack the roots of plants, often causing significant damage to lawns and other vegetation.

The attraction to light is another key factor, particularly for Japanese beetles. These insects are often drawn to artificial lights at night, which brings them to cluster around light sources in yards. As for heat, it plays an indirect role by influencing the life cycle of these insects. Warmer temperatures can accelerate the development of larvae and lead to earlier emergence of adults in summer, thereby increasing their activity period and impact on gardens.

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6 Signs indicating the presence of white grubs in the lawn

The presence of white grubs in the lawn can cause considerable damage, making it crucial to quickly identify these pests. Here are signs that your lawn might be infested with white grubs.

1. Yellowing and wilting of the lawn

One of the first signs of infestation is the yellowing or wilting of the lawn in irregular patches. This is due to the larvae consuming the roots, which prevents the grass from absorbing necessary water and nutrients.

2. Lawn that easily detaches

If you can lift your lawn like a carpet or notice that it detaches very easily when pulled, this may indicate that its roots have been damaged by white grubs.

3. Visible presence of white grubs

By examining the soil under damaged areas, you might be able to see the larvae themselves. White grubs are cream-colored, with a dark brown head and a C-shaped body.

4. Increased activity of predators

Increased activity of birds, skunks, raccoons, or other animals digging in the lawn can be an indicator. These animals dig into the soil looking for larvae to feed on, often causing further damage to the lawn.

5. Dry areas that don’t recover after watering

If certain areas of your lawn remain dry and brown despite adequate watering, this could be a sign of a white grub infestation, as the damaged roots can no longer transport water effectively.

6. Presence of weeds

The deterioration of your lawn’s health may allow weeds to take over, as they benefit from the weakened normal grass to establish more easily.

If you observe one or more of these signs, it is recommended to take immediate action to assess the extent of the infestation and consider treatment options. Management methods vary according to municipal regulations, but the use of specific insecticidal products is generally advised. Various cultural practices (aeration, overseeding, topdressing, etc.) can be employed to strengthen the lawn’s health.

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How long does it take to get rid of white grubs?

The time required to get rid of white grubs can vary significantly depending on the extent of the infestation, the treatment methods used, and the environmental conditions. If you choose to treat white grubs yourself, you can use biological treatments such as beneficial nematodes, natural predators that specifically target white grub larvae. You will normally see initial results within two to four weeks after application.

However, for these methods to reach optimal effectiveness and for the natural balance to be restored, a complete growing season may be necessary. Chemical treatments can act more quickly, but they require careful handling and precise application to avoid collateral damage to other organisms living in the lawn. In any case, prevention plays a crucial role: maintaining a healthy, well-aerated, and properly fertilized lawn can help prevent new infestations.

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How to treat a white grub infestation

To treat a white grub infestation, several strategies can be adopted, combining both preventive and curative methods to restore the health of your lawn. However, it’s important to emphasize that the most effective and least burdensome way to get rid of such an infestation is to hire a company specializing in lawn treatment.

Maintaining an appropriate mowing height

One of the essential cultural practices to prevent white grub infestation is to maintain an optimal mowing height for your type of grass, between 3 inches and 3.5 inches. A dense lawn, achieved by regular mowing and leaving the grass at a certain height, helps create a less welcoming environment for chafer laying. Adequate height also promotes the development of strong roots, making the lawn less vulnerable to damage caused by larvae.

Our tips for maintaining your lawn

Apply a layer of compost or topsoil

Enriching the soil with a thin layer of compost or topsoil improves its structure and fertility, thereby supporting the growth of a dense and robust lawn. Compost also encourages the activity of beneficial living organisms in the soil, which can help naturally control white grub populations. This method can significantly improve the overall state of lawn health, making it more resilient to infestations.

Deep watering

A practice of deep, but spaced, watering encourages the grass’s roots to grow deeper, which can help the lawn better withstand periods of drought as well as white grub infestations. Shallow and too frequent watering promotes surface rooting, making the lawn more susceptible to damage from larvae feeding on the roots. Deep watering promotes a denser and healthier lawn, less attractive to chafer females looking to lay eggs.

Contact white grub treatment experts

Faced with a proven infestation of white grubs, contacting a company specializing in lawn treatment is highly recommended. A professional can assess the extent of the infestation and propose a tailored treatment plan. The treatment may include the application of biological or chemical products chosen precisely, to minimize the impact on other living organisms in the lawn. The expertise of a professional ensures not only the eradication of white grubs but also the preservation of the overall health of your green space.

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cVert: The White Grub Treatment Specialists

If you’re dealing with a white grub problem in your yard, our team can help you restore your lawn to good health and prevent future infestations. We also offer several lawn maintenance services:

Our team can assist you with white grub lawn treatment in most regions of Quebec: Trois-Rivières, Center of Québec, Montreal, Gatineau, Québec, North Shore of Montreal,South Shore of Montreal, Sherbrooke.

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