The Carlington Summit
by George Bushell.

White grubs are eating west end lawns bare. In some cases, they have even invaded gardens to eat flower and vegetable roots. Don't be too hasty to start chemical warfare. It's not in the long term interest of your lawn, or the environment.

June bug larvae follow a three year cycle. The first year the adults lay eggs, mostly in sod areas, but also in some gardens, particularly those with weedy grasses. The second year the larvae do the most damage, especially in August onward as they come close to the surface to eat roots and grow large.

Before frost sets in, they burrow below the frost line. The third year they pupate and emerge as adult June beetles to lay eggs and start the cycle again. Some years are worse than others, as is this year.

You should turn your garden soil in late summer and fall in an attempt to prevent the larvae from burrowing to lower and safer depths.

Some people have asked if it is safe to apply their normal layer of compost to their gardens, given that it might make a nice warm blanket for the grubs. It is still desirable to apply compost, especially if it is thoroughly worked into the soil - it won't provide an insulating mulch layer this way, and the digging will help to prevent the larvae from moving to lower frost free depths.

You can buy or make spiked sandals that pierce the larvae when you walk around your lawn (hammer two and one half or three inch finishing nails into two rectangular pieces of plywood and strap these to your feet as sandals).

There is one other “natural” control - skunks and raccoons. I have two very fat skunks who have been removing the larvae from my lawn this past summer and fall. In fact, I observed them only a few nights ago eating larvae not 4 feet from my patio doors. Now they do disturb the grass somewhat, especially if you have a very bad infection (you will observe “miniature volcanoes” where they remove a grub). However, one can easily rake the lawn smooth and overseed with grass seed.

Be aware that next year's larvae population was laid this year, so eradicating the second year large grubs this year will only reduce the larvae populations for 2001.

Also be aware that June bugs fly in from your neighbours' yards even when you eradicate them from your own lawn and garden.