Our resident skunk dug up my asparagus seedlings in a raised bed for the second night in a row. She is after the grubs that are in the soil there, probably both June beetle (grey grub) and the European Chafer (white grub).
I put my old soap slivers (who knew I was saving them for this?) around the garden yesterday, after rebuilding and replanting it, to no avail: it is once again completely dug up. Madame Mouffette seems undeterred by soapy odors. I also planted some walking onions, but that was too little, too late, apparently.
Are there predators/competitors that will keep June beetles and European Chafers at bay in the future, so there will be no grubs in the garden for skunks to go after?
I don't want to trap and remove the skunk, as we are rural and other skunks are likely to move in. I don't mind her grubbing in the remaining lawn (go for it! I'm doing my best to eliminate lawn). And I don't mind sharing the bounty with wildlife in general. But I would like to figure out a strategy that allows me to protect those plants that are particularly precious to me, like my little asparagus seedlings.
I'd fence her out of them until they're big enough to survive her digging. I've had good luck using milky spore disease against grubs in the past.
My chickens dug out sections of the lawn in the fall and it turned out they were after the grubs that were in the patches they dug up. There weren't grubs everywhere, but in some areas they were thick enough to kill all the grass - if you've got a grub problem it could be your asparagus can't survive until they're gone because the grubs would eat the roots - just a thought. Our grubs would turn up in different spots different years so if they're there this year, it's likely they'll be somewhere else next year. Just my observation. We had rugosa roses and the beetles loved the flowers on them. When we tore out the rose hedge the grub problem went down to manageable - so it could be there's some great beetle food in your area that is causing a population explosion. Our hedge was on the other side of the fence from where the chickens lived so they couldn't eat the beetles - if they had been able to get to them they would have eaten them all and the beetles wouldn't have laid so many eggs to make so many grubs. Our turkey would eat so many beetles she couldn't swallow any more and they'd crawl back out of her mouth!
Thanks, Renate! We've got rugosa roses about 30 feet away, so those are the likely culprit for beetle food. Damn! I really like my care-free roses and was thinking of using them part as part of a living fence all around the yard. Didn't know they attracted June bugs!
How long does milky spore disease take to get control of the grubs? Is my skunk going to keep coming back for weeks before the grubs die? Will she eat all the grubs before they die in any case (if I don't put a fence up)?
I'm thinking of moving the asparagus seedlings to another bed for the time being, as I too was concerned about the grubs eating the roots. I've got a hugelkultur bed with strawberries and onions in it, and was thinking that young asparagus would be a reasonable companion. Will I risk moving the grubs when I move the asparagus (and thus invite the skunk to tear up my hugelkultur bed)?
Sorry, I don't have the answers to your questions. Not sure you need to tear out the roses - our grub problem went away when we did both - tore out the roses and put in milky spore - could be the milky spore would have gotten them under control anyway. Are the beetles eating all the petals off of your flowers? That's what happened to ours.
Maybe you could just move half the asparagus - that way you could have some insurance in case they don't do well either moved this time of year or with the grubs or whatever.
I put all the asparagus I could find in the devastated area into pots and tubs with planting mix, well-watered, and will hold them for a few days to see if the skunk creates more havoc in the garden. She dug a couple of small holes in the strawberry bed and in our squash hills, without major damage. I'm a bit worried that she is going to undo all our work this year installing all the new beds.
The roses have not been munched, from what I can see.
I'm going to see if I can find nematodes and/or milky spore locally today. I would really like to get this under control in one season...
I've had the same thing happening over the last couple nights. I've been finding potatoes on the surface, uneaten, so I know it's a skunk after the grubs. Eventually it'll find all the grubs in that area and hopefully move on. In areas where the damage is bad I've been taking out the whole potato plant and then reseeding with carrots and beets. I harvested a bucket of potatoes the other day and the ground was full of grubs so I wasn't surprised when I started seeing skunk activity. I would have thought that having the chickens in that area all last fall would have taken care of the grubs. guess not.
I hope you find a solution. I'm just going to wait and see what happens. I don't know what the grubs are eating but I'm happy to be rid of them.
Just thought I'd follow up by letting everyone know that I had a skunk digging in my garden every night for 2 weeks and I only lost one Garlic plant. It dug around squash, beans, tomato, kohlrabi, garlic, and beets. I just went out in the morning and moved the soil back around the plants bases before the sun got too hot. Everything was just fine. And now I'm mostly rid of the grubs too.
The update is that I did nothing and the skunk finally finished cleaning out the gardens after about three weeks. She dug between plants, for the most part, rather than uprooting anything other than the asparagus. I simply toured the yard every morning and tucked the soil back in place wherever she had been excavating. Other than my eggplants and a few kale seedlings, nothing much was lost.
So I think that the diagnosis -- the grubs being particularly profuse in the asparagus bed because they were feeding on the asparagus roots -- was right.
I'll need to figure out a grub-control strategy for next year, to avoid an annual ritual of waiting for Madame Mouffette to tire of digging things up!
Zone 3b, Lower St. Lawrence, Quebec
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