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In south east Queensland lawn grubs have become a real concern. They are most active in the warmer months of October – March so now is a great time to learn what to look for and how to get rid of lawn grubs.

Thinking that your lawn is too healthy to have lawn grubs? Think again. Lawn grubs love a thriving, healthy green lawn. Firstly – what is a lawn grub? In Queensland there are a few different types of pests that we all commonly refer to as ‘lawn grub’, mainly the Army Worm and the White Curl Grub.

White Curl Grub

This is actually scarab beetle larvae which is the juvenile stage of lawn beetle. It is often, incorrectly, known as a ‘lawn grub’ or ‘witchety grub’. White curl grubs are a serious lawn pest and the signs of infestation are easily confused with other pests, diseases and disorders in turf. The end result of a white curl grub infestation is basically, yellowing to browning and ultimate death of the lawn. White curl grub will eat away at the root system of the turf which, in turn, causes death, with a serious infestation, you are often able to roll your turf up as the root system is completely destroyed! Every lawn in Queensland at this precise time will have some white curl grub present and an infestation is generally regarded as a problem when there are 25 or more grubs existing per square metre. If less, a normal and healthy lawn with seasonal growth will sustain any damage caused. However, other external influences may likely exacerbate the problem, such as heat or drought conditions. If you have concerns, the best way to check for lawn grub is to grab a hessian bag or piece of old carpet and lay it on the grass in the late afternoon. Wet the bag or carpet thoroughly and leave overnight. The following morning the lawn grub will have been drawn to the surface, and an assessment can be made.

Army Worm

The next lawn grub critter is known as Army Worm. The adult lawn armyworm takes the form of a greyish-brown moth with a wing span of 35 to 40 mm. Damage from these differ slightly from the white curl grub, as they work similar to that of other caterpillars, eating away at the leaves of the turf and damage is often seen as a clear line of dying grass marching across your yard. Often starting closest to the house near external light sources, which attract the adult moth. Determining if you have an Army Worm problem is the same process as above with the white curl grubs. However, be aware that if you have had some reasonable damage occur you will need to be smart with your test placement. Obviously, the grubs will have already moved on from the ‘dead patch’ and will now be working on the adjacent green lawn.

Lawn Grub Prevention

The lawn grub have impeccable taste and won’t settle for a lawn already struggling – the house with the nicest lawn is generally the one who gets hit the hardest! Prevention is the key to avoid lawn grub but most commercially available pesticides are designed to treat an existing problem of lawn grub, rather than prevent it from occurring. Some of the granular mixes can be present for a short time after application and so will inadvertently prevent lawn grubs developing. The place to start in terms of prevention is ensuring your home, shed, fences and eaves are all free of moth nests. These range in appearance but most look like little cotton-like cocoons. The best way to get rid of them is with a hose and a broom. It’s not a guarantee but at least you are limiting the amount of moth activity around your property and hopefully the number that will have the opportunity to turn into lawn grubs.

Lawn Grub Treatment

The most effective treatment for an infestation of lawn grub is a chemical approach. Chlorpyrifos seems to be one of the most effective treatments and is available in both a liquid concentrate for spraying and a granular form to be dispersed over the lawn and watered in. Exercise extreme caution with these forms as they can also be lethal for animals and children. Treat your lawn in the late afternoon when birds are less active. The birds are attracted the wriggly (and dying) grubs which come to the surface of the lawn after treatment. Always read the label and apply at the recommending rates. It is important when treating an infestation to break the lifecycle which is why treatment is recommended over a 2 week period – on days 1, 7 and 11 to break the cycle of cocoon – moth – egg – grub – cocoon. The active ingredient of Chlorpyrifos is often also present in many commercially used products for treating ant and other insects. So while you are able to get rid of lawn grubs, you should also see reduced numbers of ants, lawn beetles, African Black Beetles, cockroaches and spiders.

The Organic approach to getting rid of lawn grubs

A natural, organic approach generally relies upon early mornings, a good lawn care regime and carnivorous birds.

Getting up early

A low-tech way to get rid of lawn grubs involves an extension of the hessian test. Lay wet hessian upon the lawn overnight. The lawn grubs will attach themselves to the hessian and you can then pick up and dispose of them early the next morning.

Lawn Mowing

Mow lawns higher since both beetles and moths love laying their eggs as close to the soil as possible. Having a long and healthy grass blade is the best defence against lawn grub infestations.


Lawn grubs thrive in a moist environment and our lawns shouldn’t be consistently moist anyway. Only water your lawn as and when necessary and only when the grass is showing signs of heat stress and deterioration – curling and yellowing blades. Water less frequently but more deeply to encourage deep, strong roots, drought tolerance and to deter lawn grubs.

Lawn Aeration

Regular lawn aeration using the lawn coring or garden fork methods will greatly aid in creating a healthy strong lawn and aeration will encourage deeper, stronger roots which are far more resilient to lawn grub attack. Aeration is best done using lawn coring which will also help to control thatch build-up. Alternatively, a garden fork can be dug into the soil to help aerate the soil.


Many wasps lay their eggs inside beetle larvae, which in turn kills the beetle. While having a few wasps in the yard is not for everyone, wasps can be a good friend to your lawn.


Birds love to eat many different lawn and garden pests, including all lawn grubs, as well as caterpillars and many other insects. Encourage birds into your yard to naturally control many different lawn pests by planting trees and bushes which are most native to your region, install a bird bath and keep it filled with clean water. There are a number of methods to encourage the birds to get rid of the lawn grubs for you, including flooding with water, and also soapy water, which will encourage the lawn grub to the surface, where they will hopefully be picked off by such birds. As you can imagine, this method can yield some rather scattered results!

Make your lawn less interesting to grubs

Lawn grubs are actually quite discerning and prefer some grass types to others. Couch and Kikuyu lawns are more prone to grub infestation than Buffalo grasses, like DNA Certified Sir Walter grass. If you’re investing in new turf, then this is something to consider. Be careful when you fertilise as lawn grubs will see this as an invitation to move in and make themselves at home. This is especially important around January and February while the climate is typically very warm and wet. Lawns that require little in the way of fertiliser – such Sir Walter Buffalo grass comes to mind, which will be much less appealing to grubs.

For more help with lawn grubs and other lawn maintenance tips just contact the team at Daleys Turf – here to support you for the life of your lawn.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. I managed to get some Milky Spore Powder from the US. It’s organic and harmless and very effective in getting rid of curl grubs where nothing else works.

    Can you guys import it to sell? No-one else is selling it and if you look on forums, it really works and everyone wants it in Australia but can’t get it.

    eg none of these American companies will post it to Australia…

    1. That sounds interesting, unfortunately we can’t import it unless we get approval from Australian Govt. which is a lengthy process. Dish-washing detergent works well and is safe.

  2. Hi, I have read with interest your info on lawn grubs. I have Walter Raleigh turf planted at my home in Graceville , Brisbane. Appearing are dead patches of turf with no pattern , making my lawn looking blotchy. I have tried the wet hessian bag trick , but could find no grubs. Could there be something other than lawn grubs destroying my lawn ? If you think it is lawn grind , I will use Chlorpyrifos. Tony

    1. Try flooding your lawn with water, as lawn grubs will come to the surface to breathe. So take the nozzle of your hose and allow it to flood a small areas beside the dead or damage patch. After 10 mins or so, you will have to look closely to see them.

  3. Since the recent rain events, my lawn has gone from lush green, due to soil and fertilizer treatments during the dry period, to brown and dead after the first mow. I have seen magpies in the morning feeding on what I suspected to be lawn grubs, army worm variety, then I found one this morning on the surface to support my theory. My front and back lawns are a mixed variety of grasses, couch, buffalo, bent and some other variety of runner I’m not familiar with. In the week since the rain stopped, the death of the grass has been extremely fast, so I have a major infestation. Being from a farming background, I have bought Imidacloprid to treat the problem. As rain is forecast over this weekend, this should help the treatment. We used this pesticide on all types of fruit and vegetable crops,with the appropriate WHP after. Is this going to be effective or is it overkill?

    1. Hi Andrew,
      There is a new product called ‘Acelepryn GR’ which is fantastic for lawn grubs control for up to 6 months. It would be best to apply after installation, like 2 weeks later due to the amount of irrigation that would be applied initially.
      I would only recommend to use this product in the lawn grub season which can start from October. It’s available in our lawn store and it’s something we now use here on the farm as it’s one of the safest product available for environment and humans

    2. We had a new sapphire lawn laid aprox 10 weeks ago….watered generously for that period …….looked great for about a month then fertilised with the recommended Brand for buffalo type grasses….then brown patches started appearing and the grass looked like it was dying (actually it was dying….no sign of lawn grub though just a couple of small brown months on old occasions .more brown dead areas becoming obvious……could this all be to over watering???… desperation I sprayed the entire lawn with the one recommended for sapphire grass..unfortunately we had rain showers over night and that might have diluted and or washed the effective ingredients away….SO what we you suggest. ,respray the lawn again OR. ????

      1. Hi Andrew, best thing to do now is re spray your lawn, there is no harm in spraying a second time, in fact its the preferred method to eliminate lawn grubs as not every lawn grub will feed each night.

  4. Hi Terry,

    I’m gutted!
    I laid your beautiful SirWalter Buffalo grass about 6 months ago here in Beerburrum and it was almost effortless.
    I have tentatively looked after the lawn almost daily now and my 4 kids are loving it very much.
    I’ve just noticed yellowing blade over large areas (third of a 380sqm lawn) and have noticed a thinning of the grass and appearance of dead dry grass and dirt showing through.
    There are many wasps also!
    This all seems to have happened after mowing only 4days ago, could this happen this quick?
    I will start treatment tomorrow ASAP to try and save what remains.
    Are these patches inevitable going to die?
    How long does it take for sir Walter buffalo to recover?
    Do you sell treatment?
    Any tips on how I can save my lawn?

    1. Hi Joel, Sounds like lawn grubs, they are around this time of year, especially wiht all the rain we are receiving lately. There are plenty of solutions available for this, and yes we do sell lawn grubs controls. The best thing on the market these days is ‘Acelepryn’ give 3-6 months control, totally safe for pets/kids/environment. Your lawn will recover, Sir Walter is good for bouncing back. Terry

    1. Hi Amanda, all the products for sale these days should be safe to use in the horse paddock, if you are worried at all, then google organic lawn grub removal methods and try them. Lawn grubs are apart of nature, and nature will take care of them in time, however your paddock may look a little worse for a bit.

  5. When applying insecticides on a grub infestation, do I remove the dead grass before applying or do I apply over the dead grass?

    1. Its best to remove the dead grass on top of your lawn first, the chemical needs to be sprayed on to green leaves which the lawn grubs will eat.

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