7 Signs of Grub Damage in Your Lawn


You have spent weeks, months, and years trying to perfect the tuft of grass over your lawn. From mowing it to watering it optimally to keep the grass’s greenness intact, a lot of love and labor goes into managing one’s lawn.

And, then, you have pests like grubs, which come and destroy the entire bout of hard work with their infestation. Grubs, which are beetle larvae, are one of the most common reasons your lawn has brown patches of grass instead of all green.

This article will look into the signs of grub damage in your lawn and how to eliminate it in real-time.

What are Grubs?

Before we walk you through the signs and symptoms of grub infestation in your lawn, let us understand what they are first.

Grubs, as we discussed, are larvae of certain beetle types typically found in the grass. They are “C-shaped” and typically white, directly attacking the grassroots and damaging them.

Curl Grub Larvae
Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_2200_A_Curl_Grub_larvae.jpg

Regarding their appearance and visibility, grubs measure between ¼ to 1 inch in size and are generally visible to the naked eye. But they are pesky pests that quickly damage the grass before you even realize something is wrong.

Grubs are the second stage of their growth and development. They stick in this stage for quite some time, and during this period, they wreak havoc on the lawn, damaging the fresh, healthy green grass and turning it brown and dead.

What are the Signs of Grubs?

Now that you know how to “identify” grubs in your lawn by looking at them, let us look at the common signs of infestation. An idea of these will help you understand what to look for and take immediate action to reverse any potential damage.

Following are a few telltale signs of grubs that you need to stay on the lookout for:

1. You See Them

We discussed in the previous section of the article that grubs measure ¼ to 1 inch in size. This means that if you look closely and inspect the damaged area in the lawn, you should be able to detect the grubs in real-time.

So, that’s your first sign to look out for. You’d have to dig deeper and pay close attention to the grass in your lawn to spot them in the grass. 

One quick way to confirm their infestation is to dig into the soil in several locations and check for signs of grubs.

2. You See Dead Patches

Grubs are quite quick on their action plan. Once they attach themselves to the grassroots, they proliferate quickly and damage the lawn quickly. Their first sign of an infestation is prominent dead and dry grass in the lawn.

The presence of oddly shaped dead and dry spots on the grass indicates that you have an infestation that needs immediate action. 

During the later months of summer, the grubs have a sudden steep in their hunger, leading to the damage you see in the grass. There may also be other reasons for the dead patches and you can read our article on getting rid of those brown patches from your lawn here.

3. You See Spongy Parts on the Grass

A quick look over the lawn doesn’t spark any curiosity, and you are sitting there satisfied that your lawn is in tip-top condition. However, if you press down on the grass with your hands, you feel that parts of the lawn are spongy.

As you try to walk through it, you feel underfoot, again a common sign that your lawn has a grub infestation that requires immediate treatment.

The reason why the soil feels spongy is due to the lack of hold the grass has on the lawn. Since grubs damage the root system, the soil loses its denseness and feels springy and spongy.

4. You See Moths Hovering Over the Grass

The grubs, the larvae stage of the beetle, eventually grow and become moths or their adult version. If you notice that the lawns and the gardens around the lawn are infiltrated with many hovering moths, that’s another sign that you have a grub infestation. 

5. You See An Increase in the Critter Population on the Lawn

Not just grubs and moths, their infestation also invites more critters to your lawn. It is much more common than you think and spreads in bulk. Since critters feast on the grubs, a heightened number of grubs in the lawn will attract more critters to feed on them.

6. Mimicking Signs of Drought

When drought hits, the most common sign is dry and damaged turf of grass on the lawn. Similarly, even grub infestation mimics the appearance of drought when the grub infestation occurs. 

If you notice a surge in the dry patches all over the lawn, that’s similar to signs of drought; you have to stay mindful of and tread with caution. Besides dry spots, you will also notice bare spots on the lawn that weren’t there before. 

7. You See Rotten Stumps on the Lawn

Besides noticing a chalkier texture of the soil, another prominent sign that you have grub infestation in the lawn is by noticing rotten stumps all over the lawn.

Besides grass, grubs tend to feed on decaying wood, which is another sign that your lawn needs a quick makeover. The reason why you have old stumps in the lawn is that the grubs tend to migrate toward them and build their house inside those stumps.

How to Eliminate Grubs from the Lawn?

Simply noticing a potential infestation of the grubs in your lawn is the first sign of treatment. It’s effective and takes little time to rectify itself. Now, the question that most people have next is how to eliminate grubs from the lawn.

Following are a few tips we’d recommend you follow:

  • Start by prioritizing the health of your lawn: A healthy, well-maintained, and well-cultivated lawn has reduced risks of attracting a potential grub infestation.
  • Avoid overdoing: This includes avoiding overwatering, avoiding too much fertilizers, etc. You want to do things sparingly, making it easier for the grubs to infest.
  • Use natural or chemical ways of elimination: For example, introducing nematodes or milky spore disease can effectively reduce the grubs from your lawn.
  • If nothing works, your last resort is to contact a professional lawn care service and have them fix the issue.

Noticing signs of grub damage in your lawn is a great way to control the spread of grubs in your lawn. Grubs are the larvae of various beetles, such as Japanese beetles, June beetles, or European chafer beetles, and they feed on the grass roots, causing significant harm to your lawn. Identifying them early is the key to preventing them from spreading further on the lawn.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you identify grub damage?

The most telltale sign of grub damage in the lawn is the grass turning brown and thin. It will mimic the appearance of drought-ridden grass, so watch for that.

What does grub damage look like in grass?

Grub damage on the grass looks like yellow turf of grass. Also, the grass becomes brown and damaged.

What kills grubs in lawns?

Using chemicals like carbaryl and trichlorfon is an effective way to kill the grubs. 

How do you get rid of grubs naturally?

Natural items like neem oil, borax, baking soda, etc., effectively eliminate grubs naturally.

How long do grubs last?

Once they infest, grubs last for over a year in the lawn, eating away at the grass and grassroots.

How do you prevent grubs?

The easiest way to prevent grubs is to stay alert. You aim to kill them before they even hatch and convert into grubs. You need to implement the preventive measures during spring or early summer.

Will the lawn recover from grub damage?

Grubs lead to the drying and prolonged damage of the grass. To reinstate the grass, you need to pay close attention to restoring the health of the grass.

What Colour are grubs?

Grubs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Typically, they have a C-shaped body and are brown, tan, or white.

How often should I spray for lawn grubs?

If you use any chemical treatment for lawn grubs, you must spray the lawn once every two weeks.

What do grubs turn into?

Grubs are the larval stage of the beetles. So, once they grow and develop, they grow into beetles.

By James Edwards

James Edwards is a writer & editor with almost 15 years of experience from Murphys, California. He earned his bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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