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ask-ruth-pictureFrom Katherine in Pickens, SC:
We live on a one-road four year old housing development. Most of my neighbors have sod and yard services that spray for weeds. We only apply grass seed, lime and Southern Turf Builder two times a year.

Last year and this year, we honestly have every June bug in Pickens County in our yard! You cannot go out without the bug hitting you. I thought after 4 weeks of them they were gone, but a rain shower brought them back full force this week.

I have read the life cycle of these bugs and do not see any bad evidence of damage from them, such as leaf munching. I just wonder if they will eat all my grass roots in the spring when the larvae are hatching out.

I am writing you in hopes of finding a cure for having the beasts go elsewhere next July and wondering why they are coming to just my yard. I know of other people who do not apply pesticides to their lawns in other parts of Pickens and they have not seen any June bugs! Thanks for any ideas.

Maybe your neighbors are applying a pesticide that kills the grubs, so they do not hatch out as June Bugs/Japanese Beetles the following year. The larvae of June Bugs and Japanese Beetles are white grubs with dark heads that live underground. Ten or more grubs per square foot can cause problems for your lawn, as they will eat the grass roots. Here are a few things you can do.

  1. Let your lawn go dormant (don’t water it) in June and July since ample water may attract egg-laying females.
  2. Do water in late August and September since watering may help your lawn recover and make new roots if grub damage has occurred.
  3. Parasitic wasps, Tiphia spp. and scoliidscan can work against white grubs, but it takes a few years for their numbers to be adequate enough to be effective.
  4. Parasitic nematodes are being developed, and research is underway with different Bt strains.
  5. Milky Spore, the bacteria Paenibacillus popilliae, can be applied full strength once, or applied Spring, Summer, and Fall for 2 seasons. These bacteria parasitise the grubs, and every time a grub dies the number of bacteria increase. Over time, the Milky Spore population multiplies enough to effectively eliminate the grubs. Having fewer grubs also helps prevent mole damage, as moles like to eat grubs. Mostly paraphrased from here

Ask Ruth © 2013 Ruth Gonzalez & Organic Growers School

Ruth Gonzalez

Author: Ruth Gonzalez

Ruth Gonzalez is a former market farmer, gardener, and local food advocate who wants to see organic farms proliferate and organic gardens in every yard. She also served on the Organic Growers School Board of Directors. In her job at Reems Creek Nursery, Ruth offers advice on all sorts of gardening questions, and benefits daily from the wisdom of local gardeners.

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