Lawn grubs can decimate a lawn in just a few days, as many people discovered in February when favourable weather conditions prompted a plague-like hatching event.
Coochie HydroGreen franchise owner Ian McLeod says he hadn’t seen anything like it in 25 years.
“Last year, was a plague because we didn’t have rain from July to February. It was dry, so there were no moths, but then we got a metre of rain in February,” Ian explains.
That created ideal conditions for the pupa, that had been patiently waiting in the soil below the grass, to hatch. And hatch they did.
“We had calls from people saying they were coming inside the house,” he says.
North Lakes area manager Paul Martin says the grubs, with ‘champagne taste’ went in search of healthy lawns to devour.
“They were in swimming pools, they were everywhere. They were getting off the grass, trying to get to the next area,” Paul explains.
“It was a learning curve for a lot of people, they’d go away on a Friday night come back Monday and their lawn was decimated.
“It’s like someone has gone and put Roundup over the whole lawn.”
So, what are the signs to look for, so your backyard does not become a lawn grub buffet?
“Your first sign is your lawn will look brown and you’ll think it’s dry. A lot of people confuse irrigation with lawn grubs. It’s a shift in the way the lawn looks,” Ian explains.
You will also notice moths and small grey wasps flying around. Then clusters of eggs will form on gutters and soffits, which resemble small balls of cotton wool.
Each cluster can have 400-500 eggs in it.
“They come down on little spider silks, like a parachute or bungy cord, as tiny little grubs – they call them instars – and they’re no bigger than a pinhead.
“He hits the ground and starts eating. He eats in the lawn for around two weeks until he gets to the size of your finger. Then he will dig down and start to metamorphosize into a pupa.
“The pupa will stay in the soil and then emerge as a moth. They can do up to six generations in one year. That’s just one moth, one family.”
Ian says a lawn could be ‘back to bone’ within 3-4 days.
“They eat the leaf, not the whole plant - they don’t attack the roots. It’s like using thinning scissors through your hair. They’re thinning it out by eating the leaf. Then, the roots and soil are exposed,” he says.
“It doesn’t kill it, but what happens is all the weeds come in and the lawn gets dried out and bakes the soil. Then your soil become hydrophobic. It starts to repel water like greaseproof paper.”
The best way to deal with lawn grubs is to apply preventative treatments every eight weeks.
“If you brush the eggs off a surface, they will die but that’s more for aesthetics because you won’t actually stop them. You can clean them one day and they’re back the next,” Ian says.
“Treatment won’t stop them from laying the eggs, but if they hatch and hit that lawn they will die within seconds.”
Coochie HyrdoGreen offers pet, child, bird and environmentally-friendly treatments that do the job and come with a warranty.
Ian and Paul liken it to applying sunscreen before hitting the beach. And with overnight temperatures already exceeding 15 degrees, the grubs are already getting busy.
To find out more, visit coochie.com.au or phone Paul on 0400 983 259.