White grubs are the most serious and destructive lawn insect pest in Illinois. While not all lawns will get grub damage and the extent of grub damage varies from year to year, there are some important points to consider when managing grubs in lawns. Grubs are white in color, with a characteristic "C" shape body when found in the soil feeding on lawn roots. Grubs are the larval stage of beetles. The most common grub species in our area is the annual white grub, of which the adult is a tan chafer beetle. Eggs are laid in the soil in mid-summer, primarily on well-watered lawns in full sun, often near the pavement. Damage from annual white grubs typically starts in mid-August and may continue until early October. Other species may damage lawns in northern Illinois but usually are not as common as the annual white grub. Monitoring and control of these species is the same as for annual white grub. The true white grub (May or June beetle), for example, typically has a three-year life cycle, meaning it could potentially damage lawns throughout the season. Japanese beetle grubs can also occur in northern Illinois, with timing very similar to annual white grub. Adult Japanese beetles are serious defoliators of many ornamental plants. Adult beetles, such as this Japanese beetle, lay eggs that hatch into white grubs. Since grubs feed on the roots of lawn grasses, the damage will appear as browning of the lawn. Consider that this also could be due to problems such as drought, poor soil, or diseases. However, grubs are easy to find by lifting sod in damaged areas and checking the root zone for the whitish grubs. Skunks and raccoons may tear up lawns in search of grubs, even when grub numbers are relatively low. Typically a population of about 8 to 12 grubs per square foot causes lawn damage that requires control; whereas lower populations may not damage the grass, but may attract skunks and raccoons. More info from University of IL Extension
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