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April 29, 2013

Grubs are making a comeback

Homeowners around Plattsburgh, Morrisonville, Beekmantown and beyond have been battling white grubs in their lawns for years now. 

The damage is twofold. Grubs kill turf by devouring the roots so that large chunks of turf can be pulled up like a carpet. And then each spring, skunks, raccoons and crows tear up infested turf in search of those tasty grubs.  

The calls to our office about grubs peaked in the early 2000s, and for the last few years the number of grub questions has tapered off. We still get questions, but not so many. But this spring we have had many more calls than usual. I don’t know the reason, but they seem to be making a comeback.

The good news is that there is a new product on the market that is very effective and yet is extremely low in toxicity to vertebrates like us and our pets. And according to Dr. Patricia Vittum, entomologist at the University of Massachusetts, this product has no activity against bees. 

The common name of this product is chlorantraniliprole. I know that’s a mouthful; I’m still trying to master its pronunciation and spelling. It’s important to know the common name so you can be sure you’re getting the right product. It’s available to homeowners this year under the brand name GrubEx. 

Choosing the right product can be challenging because there are so many options on the shelf. The key is to look for the active ingredient; every package has to list this in a box on the label, usually on the front. GrubEx used to contain imidacloprid as the active ingredient, but now it has chlorantraniliprole.

TIMING

The timing of the application is important and varies with the active ingredient. The most effective way to control grubs is to target the newly hatched grubs while they are still small, usually in August to early September. 

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