Have you noticed any patches of dead or spongy grass on your lawn lately? They could be the work of garden larvae. While these little worm-like creatures are harmless to humans, they can kill the devil out of your backyard.

Brown grass or clusters of dead plants are always a concern for homeowners. But if you haven’t been hit by a bad drought lately, or if you haven’t sprayed your lawn with toxic chemicals, you may be the host of these unwanted pests.

Here’s everything you need to know about garden worms and how to get them out of your garden.

What is a garden worm?

Garden worms feed on grass roots.

(N-ciel / Getty Images)

Garden worms are basically baby beetles, but that doesn’t mean they’re cute. You would probably prefer to see these white larvae writhing on the opposite end of a fishing rod.

“Lawn and garden worms are young beetles,” explains Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn. “They enter your lawn when an adult beetle lays eggs, usually a few inches in the ground. When they hatch and progress beyond the larval stage, they begin to eat grass roots.

But before you start Google search for “beetle,” listen to this. Scarab refers to Scarabaeidae family of beetles, which has 30,000 species.

“There are many kinds,” said Kristiana kripena from InsectCop. “The most commonly encountered are June bug larvae, European beetles, masked beetles, bedbugs, oriental beetles and Japanese beetles.”

Whichever type, without your own Timon and Pumbaa, you will need to mount a serious plan of attack to get rid of these larvae.

How do I know if I have larvae?

If you haven’t personally encountered the little buggers (which could happen when digging in your lawn or garden), it can be difficult to know for sure when you have them. Here are some ways to identify these stealthy parasites.

“The larvae always have a C-shaped body, a brown head and three pairs of legs,” explains Gina harper from Harper Nurseries. “The larvae feed on roots, so if you see [that] a patch of grass lifts with no roots, or brown spots that never turn green and increased activity of birds, raccoons and skunks, it means you have a problem with larvae.

You should also become wary if you start to see an increased population of beetles in your yard, especially if your lawn begins to mysteriously die off a year after you first spotted them.

“Larval problems occur on a regular three-year cycle if they are not managed,” says Harper. “The greatest damage occurs the year after the beetles appear. “

How to get rid of garden worms

These nasty little things can be very painful to eliminate. Fortunately, there are proven methods that actually work. And none of these methods involve the illegal importation of meerkats or warthogs. Hakuna Matata!

Nematodes

If you know for a fact that the larvae feast on your weed, then it’s time to head to your local garden store (or Amazon) and collect beneficial nematodes.

“The most effective and natural way to get rid of larvae is to use beneficial nematodes,” says Harper.

These microscopic worms may seem benign, but they’re actually one of the best solutions for killing your garden larvae. Here’s how they do the job: Once in the ground, the nematodes will search for your unwanted guests and infect them with a powerful bacteria that kills them in 48 hours or less.

Milky spore

Another natural way to kill your garden worms is to use something called a milky spore ($ 40, Lowe’s). However, this only works on Japanese beetles, which means you need to know what type of larva you are dealing with.

Here is how it goes.

“Once the larvae have eaten the milky spore, it will reproduce inside the larva, eventually killing them, in seven to 21 days,” says Harper. “As the larva decomposes, it releases new spores which multiply and kill other larvae. “

Drought

Beyond the classic nematode or milky spore method, we’ve also heard of people trying self-inflicted drought to rid their garden of larvae.

“Eggs prefer moist environments and will die if they don’t get water,” says Kripena. “Therefore, not watering the lawn will solve the problem. “

Definitely what we would call a scorched earth solution.

A method to avoid? Aeration, the ultra-sophisticated practice of drilling holes in your lawn to make it grow better.

“Aeration of the lawn is not a great way to deal with the problem because it won’t really eliminate the pests,” says Kripena.

Of course, you could kill a few, but not enough to solve the problem. And believe us on this one, larvae are a bit like Pokémon. You have to catch them all.


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