6 Signs of Grub Damage In Your Lawn

As a homeowner, I’ve seen many pesky insects over the years, but grubs are probably the ugliest and nastiest looking.

However, that’s not the only reason to get rid of grubs, as these insect pests also feast on the roots and stem of your lawn grass and plants. 

Grubs can be easily identified by their white bodies and brown head capsules and oftentimes burrow deeper into the soil, making them hard to catch. 

But there are some telltale signs of grubs on your lawn such as brown spots or brown patches.

Once you’re sure that your lawn is indeed plagued with grubs, you can apply the necessary treatment like hanging bird feeders, applying nematodes or milky spores to eliminate them usually within a month or sooner. 

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What Are the Signs of Grubs in Your Lawn?

There are several sure-shot signs you have a grub problem, most notably:

1. You See Grubs 

Even though this one’s obvious, it’s easy to mistake grubs for other pest species. You can call a pest control company if you aren’t sure about certain lawn pests, but the easiest way to identify these beetle species is with their c-shape and brown head capsule. 

They are a product of Japanese beetles, and unlike caterpillars lack abdominal prolegs. Adding to this, the tip of the abdomen of grubs is also commonly brown. However, there are many grubs with a similar appearance but true white grubs are distinct with a zipper of hairs on the tip of their abdomen. Here are some more grub identification tips.

6 Signs of Grubs on Lawn

2. Dead Patches or Dead Spots 

When grubs have invaded your lawn, it will be riddled with oddly shaped dead spots. These patches are usually visible in late summer or early fall, which is when the grubs ramp up their eating, making the damaged and dead grass more visible. 

Here’s a video on how to identify grubs in lawn:


3. Moths or Beetles Flying Around at Grass Level

One of the other common signs of grubs in your lawn is beetles flying over your lawn. But there are several species of beetles including mature beetles and adult beetles that can hover over your turf, so this type of activity doesn’t indicate you have a grub problem, it shows that one may be imminent. 

Beetles and moths are common creatures in a lawn, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for further signs of grub existence. 

4. Increased Animal Activity 

If you notice an influx of animals and birds such as raccoons, skunks, and armadillos in your yard, they could be munching on grubs. 

This increase in animal activity is a major problem for two reasons – you may have grubs in your lawn and the animals will create problems of their own. Refer to this guide to prevent unwanted animal activity in your lawn.

Grubs attracting animal activity in lawn

5. Bouncy Grass/Lose Underfoot

You may feel you have a healthy lawn when you look at it, but does the soil feel spongy or loose when you walk on it? I mentioned earlier that grubs feed on grass roots including the roots of warm-season and cool-season grasses, so the damage they cause occurs underground. 

But this feeding habit weakens the connection between the root base and the green turf, therefore your grass will feel spongy underfoot. 

6. Your Grass Pulls Up Easily 

If you tug on your grass and it comes up easily, it’s a sign of a weak root system, which can be caused by grubs. The time frame to see this high level of damage is between the months of June and October in most states. Apart from lawn grubs, there are several other reasons why your grass pulls up easily.

Grubs damage in Lawn

Is It Too Late to Treat for Grubs?

They say prevention is better than cure, and although it’s never too late to treat grubs, it can be more challenging once the situation gets out of control. 

That said a couple of grubs per square foot of yard isn’t a good reason to apply preventative products or chemical preventative treatments but between 5 or 10 grubs per square foot of turf including per square foot of sod is slightly concerning. Read my detailed article on when to apply grub control to get an idea of the right timelines. 

Grubs larvae in yard

Best Treatment for Grubs on Lawn

With regards to treatment for grubs in your lawn, you’ve ideally got two options – natural treatment or chemical treatments with an application sprayer or similar tool. 

Once you’re sure you have grubs in your yard, you can decide between natural remedies or pesticide applications. Natural grub killers won’t harm other plants and beneficial insects in your yard but most pesticides will kill everything they come in contact with. 


Q. What Is the Best Time to Treat Grubs?

A. The best time to treat grubs is in the late summer or early fall. This is the time when the grubs are ready to hatch. But if you want to stop grub dame in its tracks, the best time to apply preventive treatments is when you see the first signs of damage.

Q. Will Grub Damaged Lawn Grow Back?

A. A grub-damaged lawn may not grow back, especially in the brown patches, but you can overseed these areas after bidding adieu to grubs for good. 

Q. Grub Damage To Lawn vs Fungus. Which One Do I Have?

A. It may be hard to distinguish between grub damage and fungus, but one of the easiest way to tell them apart is by pulling on the grass. If it comes up easily, it’s grub damage but if not it’s probably a fungus. 

Q. Where Do Grubs Come From?

A. Lawn grubs come from worms laid by beetles. These eggs remain dormant during the winter months and hatch in the soil in the spring, causing a grub infestation.

Q. What Do Grubs Turn Into?

A. Grubs feed on grass roots and eventually turn into adult beetles. They then emerge from the soil to mate and lay eggs. 

Final Thoughts 

Before rushing to apply any natural or preventative treatments, it’s important to ensure that you have a grub problem or else you kill beneficial plants and insects. 

The 6 signs on this list are the easiest way to tell if you have grubs strolling around your lawn, but call a lawn care specialist if you are still on the fence. 

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