Have you ever been digging in the garden or your yard and stumbled upon a ball of white larva? Unless one is an entomophile (insect loving), the sudden sight of a white grub can be revolting, shocking, and quite concerning. White grub is a general term used to refer to beetle larvae; particularly the June Beetle (sometimes referred to as the “May Beetle”). Occasionally the term is also assigned to scarab beetles such as the Japanese Beetle. Found through Canada and the United States, there are a wide variety and number of beetles whom have settled in Florida.
Although not all beetles feed on turf, those that do can cause extensive damage if not identified in time. The Chafer beetle is a species known to feast on turf, and their presence is often indicated by the transformation of the turf color to a yellow hue. This discoloration is often misdiagnosed as a nutrient deficiency, therefore, it is essential to explore further for the presence of the beetle by cutting into the turf. The UF IFAS recommends that one “Cut around three sides of a 1-foot square piece of sod and then pull back the flap of sod you’ve cut free. If the turf is easily pulled away from the soil that means there are few to no roots on it. If there are grubs present on the uncovered soil surface, they are likely responsible for the lack of roots” (2019).
As the grubs/beetles cause injury to the root system of the turf, the turf’s ability to intake water and nutrients is diminished along with its ability to withstand the stress of the dry, hot weather typical in Florida. As the grubs tend to re-invade areas where they found nourishment previously, it is imperative to address the pest as soon as the problem is identified. A typical curative process would involve the application of chemical remedies to affected areas only, and they usually occur in the late summer when the eggs have hatched. Preventative measures allow for greater flexibility than curative in that they can be scheduled, and require less residual monitoring and sampling for grub infestations.
To learn more about pests that are typically found in the Florida landscape, review this document provided by the University of Florida’s IFAS extension. If you are concerned that the turf at your commercial property may be vulnerable to pests and diseases, LMP’s Integrated Pest Management team can assist you in identifying, preventing, and treating both pests and diseases. Call us today at (877) LMP-PRO1 for assistance.
. Buss, E. A., & Dale, A. G., (2017). Insect Pest Management on Turfgrass. Retrieved from: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig001