Last fall I watched helplessly as skunks shredded my lawn with great resolve. Any other critter I would have been quick to chase away, but since the offender was a skunk, I was left to watch the horror unfold slowly. So why had these normally reclusive animals become such a lawn pest?
Simply, my lawn was loaded with a favorite food of theirs – grubs. It was, in fact, the grubs that had also caused the grass to turn brown and become separated from the soil.
Grubs can easily be seen if you peel back a section of turf and examine the soil beneath. If you see some white, one- to two-inch caterpillar-like creatures curled up to form a “C” shape, then you have grubs. Grubs are actually the larva of the Masked Chafer beetle and the Japanese beetle. They were spawned from eggs laid by the beetles in mid-summer. The real damage begins when the eggs hatch in later summer and the feeding frenzy begins. Their damage is reduced by the fact that the best areas for the eggs are in sunny areas that are frequently watered.
There are solutions to the problem, but they require early treatment to be effective. If you have seen grub damage before in your lawn, it might be a good idea to treat. If you are unsure, just peel back turf in a prone area and count the number of grubs. If you see more than ten in one square foot, you should take action.
The most common way is through the use of grub control granules applied to the lawn in mid-July. The chemicals are designed to leave a residue for weeks, so if you do not time it correctly, it will still be effective. If you prefer to use an organic solution, bt galleriae, is toxic to grubs if they ingest it. Since water encourages grubs to eat, it is best to heavily water in grub controls. As with any treatment, follow the package instructions for use and application amount.
Lawn damage from grubs can be significant if left untreated, leaving the homeowner with the unpleasant task of repairing large areas of turf in the fall. By doing a bit of homework, this pest can be controlled, and the skunks can find a new area to find their next meal!