Everything You Need to Know About Cicada Grubs & Larvae

With the 17 year Cicadas sounding off, the ants being driven out of the ground from all the rain, and mosquito season in full swing it feels like all of the insects are attacking at the same time.  The one you may not have noticed though is the white grub, also known as the cicada grub or cicada larvae, they are lurking under your lawn.

The Problem with White Grubs

This is the larvae of the June bug or another beetle called the Black Masked Chaffer. What makes these guys so damaging is that they feed on the roots of your lawn and you can’t tell it until the damage is done.  They are feeding now, but you won’t be able to tell it because, at this point in time, it is cool and wet so the grass can handle some root pruning. But, when it gets hot and dry your lawn may just die. When it dies, if you pull on a brown section of turf, it will pull up like carpet with no roots.

When to Treat

There is a small window of time at the end of July and the beginning of August when grubs are most easily killed. This is the time of year that the grubs emerge from their eggs and burrow up into the top layer of soil where they eat the roots of the grass. They are easiest to kill in this early stage of development because they are young. In early fall, the grubs will begin to burrow four to eight inches into the soil away from the cold. They will return older and hardier in the spring and will cause more damage then. You want to get your grub treatment down by the end of July or early August to be the most effective.

How to Treat Cicada Grubs & Cicada Larvae

Because the white cicada grubs and larvae are highly variable from year to year, damage is spotty, localized and impossible to predict. So, if you have experienced grub issues in the past, here are 3 management techniques suggested by Iowa State University Extension:

  • The Golf Course Approach – “Treat every part of the lawn, every year because you might have white grubs and heavy use of high-priced insecticide is preferable to ANY white grub damage.” -ISU
  • Wait-And-See Approach – “Watch the lawn carefully during August – September for early signs of damage (wilting, turning brown). Apply a curative insecticide such as trichlorfon (Dylox, Bayer Advanced 24-Hour Grub Control) only where needed and when needed. The risk is that you might still lose some sod, especially if summer rainfall or irrigation keeps the grass growing and vigorous through July and August. Damage symptoms may not appear until after it is too late for effective treatment (late September through late October). Unfortunately, raccoons and skunks are much better at locating grub populations than we are and the first hint of a grub problem in your turf is likely to be that your lawn was “plowed” by varmints overnight.” -ISU
  • The Do-Nothing Approach – “Count up how many years you DID NOT have grub damage. Divide the cost of replaced sod by that number of years. If the yearly averaged cost of sod is less than the price of insecticide, do nothing and take your lumps in the occasional year when damage occurs. This approach is much easier to follow if your attitude is ‘it’s just grass, anyway.’” -ISU

The EcoPride Solution

Here at Heritage, the quality of our lawns is a very high priority. Knowing that white grubs are a major problem here in the Kansas City Metro we have implemented grub prevention into our EcoPride Program. For the EcoPride solution, your Lawn Coach would apply your treatment through June and the first part of July to ensure it is effective during the grubs’ most vulnerable time. For more information on grub control or to begin treatment, contact your Lawn Coach today!