• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

GRUBS!!!  RSS feed

 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey guys,

This is the coolest site.  I'm so happy I tripped upon it.

I am a totally new gardner, and I am from the Mid-Atlantic, specifically the Northern Jersey Shore (growing season April 1 - October 31?)

I'm planning a few new garden beds for the coming spring.  I plan to go completely organic, and I'm trying to find the best way to prep my lawn and get rid of all the grubs in my backyard?  My lawn is literally dying because of all the moles and grubs back there.

Could anybody suggest any good natural solutions to this problem?

---- I was reading about cornmeal gluten, but it apparently grows weeds and strong grass roots.

---- Someone said to pour beer in small plastic containers and lay them out on the lawn because grubs love beer.  They crawl in and die.  That sounds like it could take a long time and take a lot of stale beer.

Any short term quick fixes?

Thanks guys!!!

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As I understand it, a predator is probably the way to go. I'm just tossing out ideas, though, not speaking from experience.

My first thought on a quick fix is to use a tame predator, if you're confident no one has put out a grub-poison recently. Do you have neighbors or friends with chickens that could be kept for a while on the plot you plan to clear (if it's large enough), preparing the garden bed? Or would you be willing to let a friend's ferret or terrier into your yard?  (In the case of terriers, you might want to follow up with Paul's post-hole technique for the trenches they dig...)

For the medium and long term, you could build a habitat for natural predators, although this might not mix well with cats or dogs. I don't know much about New Jersey ecology; here in CA I'd build a good place for snakes. It's too bad the hedgehogs from pet stores are African, rather than European. An owl house tailored to local species might help with the moles, and a feeder and/or house for songbirds could help with the grubs.

As Paul's lawn care article mentions, there are commercially available parasites like milky spore. This strategy mixes OK with predator controls.

pstajk wrote:
---- I was reading about cornmeal gluten, but it apparently grows weeds and strong grass roots.

---- Someone said to pour beer in small plastic containers and lay them out on the lawn because grubs love beer. They crawl in and die. That sounds like it could take a long time and take a lot of stale beer.


Rather than buying beer as bait, I would use hooch: either save the liquid from your sourdough starter, or mix up a big batch of thin flour paste and add a packet of active dry yeast, a dollop of starter, or a scrap of un-baked bread or pizza dough. Let it ferment a bit, but get it out of the house before it bubbles over. It smells enough like beer that most creatures won't know the difference.

In the end, you'll want soil that is able to grow weeds, but is covered by stuff you like better.  In places you're keeping as a lawn, the grass fills that role.  One way to handle strong grass roots in a garden bed is to cause them to rot in place, with a method like sheet mulching/lasagna gardening. With this sort of method, a tall stand of deep-rooted weeds (of any but a few species) is an asset at the beginning, rather than a liability. One straightforward method:
http://onestraw.wordpress.com/sub-acre-ag/sheet-mulch/
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Joel,

Thanks for responding.

When I started to double dig the garden bed I was finding grubs like 2 feet beneath the surface.

You had said:

My first thought on a quick fix is to use a tame predator, if you're confident no one has put out a grub-poison recently. Do you have neighbors or friends with chickens that could be kept in that space for a while (if it's large enough), preparing the garden bed? Would you be willing to let a friend's cat or ferret out into your yard once in a while?


2 questions:

A. Cats, dogs, and chickens eat grubs?
& B. Do grubs surface themselves, and if they do, is it during a certain point in the day or just whenever they feel like it.

I ask because for the majority of grubs, I find them about 6 inches below the grass, and this is pretty much out of the reach of cats and such.

Now I know why the moles are having such a party in my backyard ... hehehe

I'll give the hooch a shot, sounds interesting.

Oh yeah, and grubs have the ability to climb up a plastic container out from the ground?  That's pretty crazy.

I would've thought that they just stayed in the ground.

Time to wikipedia these bad boys.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I modified my reply many times, fixing some early exuberance.

Digging creatures, like moles and pigs, are probably the best predators of grubs.  But chickens will scratch around, and can work alongside you as you dig.

The cats and dogs would focus on eating the moles.

As I understand it, grubs emerge mostly to pupate, which is where songbirds and such would come in handy.

The beer trick is a new one to me re: grubs, I had only heard of it for slugs. I bet they can climb slick plastic, but I had not heard that they do.
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Haha!  I'm gonna try the plastic either way because it'll be the first time I conducted a science experiment since high school, lol.

I just found this at a web site called Grinning Planet, good stuff.

http://www.grinningplanet.com/2006/03-16/organic-lawn-care-article.htm

Grubs

If grubs are eating the roots of your grass and causing brown patches, there are a number of solutions within the realm of organic lawn care.

Short-Term Grub Solutions

Lawn-Aeration Sandals — These are basically strap-on shoes with pointy spikes on the bottom. They don't do a very effective job of aerating, but they will pierce and kill grubs if the grubs are close enough to the surface.

Nematodes — You can purchase and apply beneficial nematodes that will attack and kill the grubs. Look for the Heterorhabditis variety, and purchase a product designed to work in your temperature zone. Apply annually if you have a continuing problem.

Long-Term and General Grub Solutions

Milky Spore — If you've managed to determine that your particular grubby invader is from the Japanese Beetle line, milky spore is a good long-term solution for organic lawn care enthusiasts. You apply it three years in a row, and after that it should be clear sailing for many years to come. It won't, of course, prevent the Japanese beetles that hatched in your neighbors' yards from eating your roses, but at least it will set up solid defenses against the beetles' grubs and prevent future damage to your lawn.

Starlings — Though this invasive bird is causing problems for many native bird species, one of its positive attributes is that it eats grubs. So, that slightly creepy flock of starlings in your yard is really doing great things for you.

Killer Wasps — If you plant peonies, firethorn, and forsythia, they will attract the Spring Tiphia wasp, which uses grubs as a nursery for her young. "Eww" ... but effective. (For more information on garden insectaries, see our article on beneficial insects and the plants that support them.
 
                                
Posts: 2
Location: Lake Zurich, IL
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The beer things is appropriate for slugs rather than grubs.  They sense the yeast, climb in, and die from the ethanol.

I'd try the nematodes or the milky spore.
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Spuddiesel.

Will definitely give it a shot.

Btw, when would you suggest I lay down the nematodes / milky spore.

When is it most effective or most appropriate to lay down to battle the grubs?
And are either harmful to vegetable or fruit plants?

I don't want to create a hazardous environment for my garden bed.

What do you think?
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21481
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The conventional way is that when you have a pest, KILL THE PEST! DIE, DIE, DIE YOU GRAVY SUCKING PIGS!

The "organic" approach is to replace the toxic pesticide with something non toxic or less toxic.  (Milky Spore, pigs, terriers, etc.)

The permaculture way is to think "I must be doing something wrong" and explore a path so that there won't be a problem anymore.  (Plant more diversity, encourage more birds, looser soil, etc.)

Why are the grubs there? 

Most pests show up due to a lack of diversity. 

As for the moles:  they are probably feasting on the grubs.  They are your primary solution to the grub problem.  If you get the grubs to go away, the moles will go away.  But what is so messed up in your system that makes grubs so happy?

Tilling (including double dig) is something I don't generally like.    I far prefer building long term beds.  So the soil is VERY dug once with the idea that it won't be turned again.




 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul,

The presence of grubs is very bad news for new seedlings in a new spring garden bed. Is this correct?  From what I've read, it seems that milky spore takes a few years to become effective against garden pests.

Would you discourage the use of nematodes as a quick fix against grubs in one's soil?

I ask because, unfortunately, in the past my folks have consistently thrown down grub chemical killer to solve our backyard problem for the short term, and yet the grubs always eventually reappear, followed by the moles and voles during the next season's spring. Obviously, this course of action has been totally unsuccessful, and I wonder just how negative an impact the chemicals have had on my soil.

Certain nematodes seem very beneficial because they are advertised on the web as being a highly effective organic treatment.  I'm just not sure if they can also be harmful to plants, pets, and humans.

From Wikipedia:

From an agricultural perspective, there are two categories of nematode: predatory ones, which will kill garden pests like cutworms, and pest nematodes, like the root-knot nematode, which attack plants and those that act as vectors spreading plant viruses between crop plants.

Predatory nematodes can be bred by soaking a specific recipe of leaves and other detritus in water, in a dark, cool place, and can even be purchased as an organic form of pest control.


I'm going to try both nematodes and milky spore for the spring, and I'm anxious to see the results.  Any experts out there who have tried either with success or failure?

I understand what you mean about diversity; my goal is to work towards creating that environment asap.

P.S.  Should I be worried about the grub chemicals that have been laid down on my family's lawn over the past few years when I grow vegetables and fruits this coming spring?

 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Found some good articles and an Organic Pest Control Guide (little pricey I'd say):

http://www.doityourself.com/stry/organicdefense
http://organicgardens.suite101.com/article.cfm/beneficial_bugs_parasitic_nematodes
http://www.thebeneficialinsectco.com/beneficial-nematodes.htm

http://www.extremelygreen.com/pestcontrolguide.cfm

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21481
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You are asking for my opinion .... and my opinion is .... big.  Too big to fit into a post. 

I think the diversity will solve your problem in the long run.    I would just go with that.  Leaving the grubs in place right now will attract grub eaters.

The milky spore will solve your problem in the short run - but if it were me, I would go a cheaper and lazier route and not use it.

 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I second Paul's response. Build diversity. Milky spore can be part of that diversity, as well as the beer/hooch, if you so desire to be experimental. I don't think either are necessary. I wouldn't be too concerned with the chemicals that have been applied, as long as you've stopped the application of such permanently.
A couple years ago I moved into my house, which had a neglected yard. Various so-called "weeds" and things growing sparsely due to neglect. I've left the weeds and started fertilizing. I've noticed grubs in my yard, but only around the perimeter near lawns that get the chemical treatments.

Let the grubs be. I think they'll go away once you get away from the chemicals and get more stuff growing. From your posts I assume you are transitioning your lawn from grass only to a variety. Grubs like grass. Weak grass. Grass weakened by chemicals. Let things such as plantain, dandelion, clover and such grow with your grass in the lawn. Don't kill them with chemicals, this only weakens your lawn and makes a haven for pests such as your grubs, which then attract the moles. This kind of reminds me of the movie Caddy-Shack for some reason.
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just now read both of your responses to my questions.

Sorry for getting back so late, but thank you ... what you guys say makes a lotta sense.  I think I'm going to split up the yard, try my approach on one half, and try your approach on the other.

Thanks!
 
                                  
Posts: 8
Location: Irving, Tx
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With organics you will have a healthy enviornment for toads, lizards etc. Toads will EAT those grubs.
Prep the lawn by determining if the soil is too tight or too loose. If it is too tight, you need to till in some cedar bark mulch to looosen it up.
Cedar bark mulch takes 2 years to compost, where other hard wood mulches take only one year. Your soil will stay loose with the cedar bark mulch, long enough for the organics to naturally loosen and balance the soil.
If you can find a feed store, buy some alfalfa meal. there are products with alfalfa meal in them in garden centers andnurseries that carry organic products, but the pure meal from the feed store is better, and costs much less. Add alfalfa meal at the rate of about 10 pounds per 100 sq,ft of lawn, add sugar ( plain old table sugar) at the rate of 3 -4pounds per 100 sq.ft. put down about 3 inches of cedar bark mulch and till all this in to a depth of at least 6 inches. Water it well to settle it. In the spring, some of the grass you have tilled in will come up. If you are wanting no grass in flower bed areas, pull those grasses up as soon as they show their little heads, before they can send out runners.
You should have grounds ready to plant with grass or flowers, with a minimum of work to keep it nice.
 
                                  
Posts: 8
Location: Irving, Tx
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
P.S.
For the moles,,,,, sprinkle some cayenne pepper down the holes. As soon as you see a hole, sprinkle it liberally. This will chase those little buggers away.
Works for bunny rabbits and any other animal that breathes through their nostrils. Doesn't bother birds. If you want to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders, put some of those hot pepper seeds like you sprinkle on pizza, in with the bird seed. It will not bother the birds, but will chase the squirrels out of it.
 
                                  
Posts: 8
Location: Irving, Tx
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I disagree with Jeremiah;
I don't want ANY grubs in my lawn. they eat healthy grass as well as poor grass.
Using organics, you make a healthy enbiornment for toads, and they love grubs.
One thiong I always leave out, yopu want a water supply for the toads, lizards and grass snakes. If there is not much rainfal, and they have a dry spell for too long, they die too.
I put a very pretty solar water fountain in my fern bed, where it is nice and shaded, so the water will stay cool and fresh longer. I set the bottom bowl into the ground a little so the toads can get to it easily.
It's pretty in my garden, makes a soothing sound to relax you when you are out there, and provides water for my lawn livestock.
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do toads just appear?

I live in a suburban area with barely any wooded areas separating me from my neighbors.  I don't live near a marsh or pond either; although, a river is located nearly 400 yards across the street from my house.

And really I don't think I've ever seen a toad or a frog in my backyard ever.

I don't think I live in the right area.

I do have grubs and moles though.

I like the cayenne pepper idea, nice!
 
                                  
Posts: 8
Location: Irving, Tx
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Toads are pretty shy. I seldom see the ones in my yard. If you have been using ANY chemicals, they will not be there because their food supply has been killed off, and they may have been killed by the chemicals.
Obviously moles are not very good predators for getting rid of grubs, although I was always told that is what they eat, or you wouldn't have so many grubs.
Grubs are the larvae for June bugs ( or Japanese Beetles). the lil grubs grow up in your soil, eating the roots of all your plants, then when they are adults, the come to the surface, and drive you nuts.
BLESS MY LITTLE TOADS!!!
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21481
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If it were me, I would skip the cedar duff for any lawn solutions.  Cedar has at least four allelopathic agents (naturally occurring herbicides)  that would make your grass sad.

And in the mission to fight grubs, sugar and alfalfa meal will not have any direct impact.  These *might* help with making for stronger, healthier grass (I use the word "might" because it depends on a variety of things).  I think following the lawn care article would do far more.

 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Moles offer you a nice pile of tilthy soil for your potting mix, leaving a nice microsite to introduce some diversity to your lawn.. daisy, yarrow, clover, a couple of bulbs.  Our moles (Townsend Mole and Coast Mole) tend to be solitary wanderers--another will wander in if the territory is open.  As we enrich the earth, density will increase.  Wright(192 found 72.5% of diet was earthworms, but grubs also.  Voles quickly occupy abandoned burrows, and do the damage to plants.
PRC
 
Scott Reil
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
After reading Paul's lawn article (both amusing and informing) I agree the place to start on ANY lawn question you have is there...

But the grub question remains... pstajk wants a quick fix, charlotte wants no grubs at all. You guys want chemicals, huh?

There is imidicloprid, harmless to mammals but strongly implicated in Colony Collapse disorder. So no grubs at the cost of every third bite of food we eat. Hope you're full...

Or the old guard goodies like carbamates and such, with the cancer, Parkinsons, and other goodies that entails. No grubs, and if you live you can shake your own paint cans...

Grubs are not just Japanese beetles or Junebugs, but ALL beetle larvae, known in the profession as "white grub complex", as, unless you are willing to check raster patterns (the hair on their a**), it is easier to lump them together. So we are talking about wiping out not just a species but an entire niche in the ecosystem. Not very permie of us...

AND as the grubs spend their part of the life cycle IN the soil, not at the surface, cats, dogs, chickens AND toads are all out as controls... (toads eat slugs, but I have never seen them digging out grubs).

IF we want to act as a member of the biotic community, the thing to do might be to increase the number of natural predators, right? Paul says to build diversity, always a good idea, but the majority of soil denizens have little or nothing to do with grubs.

Milky spore, which is a grub killer is a long build up, and as it is an en vivo culture raised in Japanese beetles alone (St. Gabriel, the sole supplier is trying to rectify this now, but I am not sure where they stand). Not much good against a white grub complex, and in northern areas like mine, it can be really hit or miss as to whether it survives a winter. Not a panacea...

pstajk answers his/her own question nicely. It's 'todes, not toads, that are the answer. Nematodes are the natural control on grubs. While most people know next to nothing about this kingdom of creatures, they are the most prolific biomass on the planet (if you were to pile up whales in one place, apes in another, the biggest, heaviest pile would be these microscopic worms you can hardly see...) Some eat bacteria, some eat fungi, some eat plants ( ) some eat other nematodes, and some, especially order Rhabtibidae, eat worms and larvae.

Look around on line; there are a bunch of places selling them. I like North Country Organics as they are the only ones I know mixing the two most effective northern species Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (the first is a root zone ambusher and the latter is a hunter-seeker that roams the soil. Sort of a hammer and anvil approach... :evil Both these are winter hardy; if you are furher south, or treating in the heat of summer (right after the beetles have laid is a prime time for tode application) Steinernema feltiae is commercially available, and very aggressive, but it won't overwinter in any fashion in northern climes. The other two will, assuming SOME grub population survives...

And Charlotte, SOME grub population should survive as this is a mast food source for a lot of the soil food web. Once the todes have done away with the innards (they have an en vivo culture themselves inside the grub) the husk becomes food for bacteria, the chitin in the head armor feeds chitinous eating bacteria (also a check against shelled insects), etc, etc, etc... And our population of predatory nematodes continues until the food source becomes too small to support a huge population, at which time everything falls back to a background level...

Chemical applications kill nematodes for the most part, so chem companies have you wiping out everything INCLUDING the natural controls. Rinse, lather, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. THAT's the ticket...

Some tips; choose a rainy day for application; everything moves into the soil better. And sunshine is hell on wheels for 'todes; their bodies are very high in silicates, so they are almost crystalline looking under a microscope. Sunshine can fry them. Barring cloudy, rainy weather, early morning or early evening apps work best...

And order early in the week; 'todes do not survive the mailing ordeal over a week-end well at all and early ordering avoids that issue...

And right on about the moles, Paul C. Everyone gets squirrelly about moles (the neighbor says "I've got moles, must have grubs." no matter how many times I tell him it just means he has worms in his lawn. Moles, worms, ants; this is how Nature brings subsoil nutrition to the surface...

Hope that helps...

HG
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow that was a big help.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21481
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another excellent post helpfulgardener.  I cannot come up with one spec to be picky about.
 
Do not set lab on fire. Or this tiny ad:
2017 Home Grown Food Summit - FREE online presentations!
https://permies.com/t/66487/Home-Grown-Food-Summit-FREE
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!