The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bad Bug Profile: Grubs

GrubWhenever I poke around in our soil, I usually come across some big white grubs.  Grubs are the larval form of scarab beetles, a large family which includes over a thousand species in the U.S. and Canada.  The best known of these is the Japanese Beetle, which can be identified by looking at the nearly microscopic hair patterns at the butt end of the grub.

I consider grubs to be bad news, and in many cases they are since they turn into pest beetles or eat plant roots.  On the other hand, some grubs are useful since they decompose organic matter in the soil.  Regardless, I toss them all into the chicken coop and watch the hens fight over these fat bundles of protein, along with the worms Mark adds to sweeten the pot.

Species: Many species in Scarabaeidae (Scarab family)

Plants Affected:
Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) feed on the leaves of grapes, apples, plums, cherries, strawberries, and various ornamentals.  Some grubs feed on plant roots.

Related Species:
Other common white grubs turn into June Beetles and several other species.

Natural Enemies:
Parasitic wasps, diseases including Milky Spore, nematodes.

Organic Control:
Traps may be worse than useless since they'll lure your neighbor's Japanese Beetles into your garden.  Luckily, both the adults and grubs are very easy to handpick and the chickens love them.

Learn to keep bugs at bayRead other posts about Organic Insect Control:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Howdy Anna,

Sorry, to butt in on such an old post, but I really feel the need to set you straight here.

Though Japanese beetles were always a huge hazard to our rose bushes in NE Ohio and their grubs chomped away at the roots of our grass, not all grubs are harmful.

Guessing from your photo, there is really only one species these grubs can be. They are probably Dynasties tityus, or eastern hurcules beetle, an excellent composer that feeds only on dead, woody plant material.

Been loving the blog, btw. Found it looking for mushroom info, and have been reading it from the start for about a month now. How are those peach trees doing? Kidding,No spoilers please.

Thanks, Chuck Hofmeister

Comment by Chuck4th Sat Oct 31 21:23:38 2015
Chuck4th --- I love hearing from someone with more entomological skills than I have! That would be great if those big grubs I dig up were a beneficial beetle. I always assume they're June bugs based on...nothing much. :-)
Comment by anna Sun Nov 1 14:44:03 2015

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