In the annual backyard fight against pesky grubs and Japanese beetles, Paulette Ball has come to be viewed as a heavyweight champion. She has worked at Alsip Home & Nursery in Frankfort for the last five years.
During that time, she thought she had seen and heard it all—until this spring.
“The grubs are already close to the surface,” Ball said. “Usually, this doesn’t happen until around Mother’s Day. This is a very strange spring.”
Ball, a lawn and garden supervisor, recommends customers hit grubs hard now—with a right and a left. She offers these tips:
1. Apply a 24-hour grub kill product such as Bayer Advanced Grub Killer Plus.
“That’s going to get the ones that are up close to the surface,” she said. “Usually, they don’t put this down until May. Same thing with the GrubEx and the season-long (products). But, if we put these down too early, you’re going to have to do a second application.”
2. Apply a season-long grub control product. Wait until Mother’s Day to tackle this chore. Ball’s best bets: Bayer Advanced Season-Long Grub Control, Scott’s GrubEx.
3. Or go with a more eco-friendly approach.
Ball suggests using St. Gabriel’s Milky Spore, a product that comes in a powder or granule form. She said the powder goes on with one application. Granules are applied three time—once each on the three big summer holidays, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
“It’s great stuff,” Ball said. “It’s like little Pac Men that go through the soil—chew, chew, chew, chew.”
To identify grub infestation, she said to look for wilting grass or brown spots in the lawn. Pull back the turf and look for beetle larvae. Ball said 100 Japanese beetles can lay 5,000 grubs in the soil in one season.
Grubs cause damage by eating grass roots. Adult Japanese beetles attack shade trees—particularly dark-leaved trees such as lindens—shrubs, fruit trees, flowers and some vegetables. The beetles eat leaves off the plants and turn trees lacey.
“The past couple years—I think it’s because of the hard frosts we’ve been having—they haven’t been that bad,” Ball said. “This year we didn’t get a lot of hard frost. I have a feeling they’re going to be bad again.”
Ball is an organic gardener—by choice.
“Well, I figure for years and years and years, people have been putting chemicals into the earth,” she said. “Now it’s time to give back. I want things to be there for my grandchildren and their kids.
“So, it’s a big thing in my family. We all do organics so we can bring everything back to the way it used to be.”