Grubs in turf

Is your lawn damaged as a result of insects? Turf is naturally teeming with insects and microorganisms, and is usually a sign of a healthy lawn. However, some types of insects, including leatherjackets and chafer grubs, could cause damage to turf. Find out how to identify insect grubs in turf with advice from Essex Turf grower and supplier, Paynes Turf.

Identifying grubs in turf Paynes Turf

Turf is a living, natural product which occasionally contains insect larvae, including the larvae of spiders, earthworms and beetles, as well as a number of microorganisms. Generally the larvae exist in the turf without causing any problems, however where there are significant numbers of leatherjackets (crane flies) and the chafer beetle present, it could be possible for damage to occur.


Identifying damage-causing insects

Chafer grubs and leatherjackets are two of the most common insect larvae found in soil. Leatherjackets are the larvae of crane flies (or daddy-longlegs), and have long bodies (up to 30mm in length) with no legs and what appears to be no head, and are greyish brown in colour.

Chafer grubs are white in colour with a ‘c’ shaped curved body, and can reach around 18mm long when straightened out. They have three pairs of legs at the head end of the body, and are bigger than the adult beetles.

What damage could they cause?

The insects and insect larvae are not only found in new turf, they can also be found in established lawns and in other areas of the garden such as in beds and borders.

Damage to turf usually occurs between autumn and spring when the insects reach maturity. Two signs that the insects may be present is when birds start pecking the lawn to catch the grubs, and if foxes tear up patches of turf to get at the grubs in the soil beneath the surface. You may also notice that the lawn begins to turn yellow.

Leatherjackets often come to the surface at night to feast on grass leaves, and other insect larvae eat the roots of the grass. Thankfully damage caused by the larvae is temporary; when the larvae metamorphose into adults they will simply fly away (and so will the problem!).

Prevention measures

The easiest solution to the removal of these insects is to simply pick them off if you spot them on the turf or on the soil and release somewhere else. As always, a healthy well maintained and appropriately fed lawn is best able to withstand the destructive nature of insect larvae.