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Larvae of beetles are called grubs. The thick, white larvae are often unpopular with garden enthusiasts. Because they can damage roots, lawn and plants. But not all grubs are the same pests and should be recognized before combating them. This article shows how to recognize harmful grubs and how to recognize them from useful larvae.

grubs in the lawn

Not all are pests

The family of scarab beetles, botanical name Scarabaeidae, includes the garden chafer, the May and June beetle, the rhinoceros and rose beetle. They all lay eggs, which then give rise to voracious larvae. But not all larvae are a threat to our lawns. Because the larvae of the rhinoceros and rose beetle do not feed on lawn roots like the other three species of scarab beetle. Various grubs can be easily identified before fighting.

Fight only the harmful larvae in the lawn

To ensure this, larvae (often also referred to as maggots or worms) found in the lawn should be checked for their identity. This is very easy to do. On a smooth surface, e.g. B. a wooden board, the beneficial larvae (of rhinoceros and rose beetles) stretch and then crawl away lying on their backs. The cockchafer larva, on the other hand, maintains its typical hunched posture and tries to escape by lying on its side. Garden beetles and June beetles, also known as fallow beetles, also stretch, but then only move forward in a prone position. If the larvae prove to be a harmful species, control measures can begin.

Rose chafer grubs

Identify harmful species


  • All curved in a C-shape
  • Brownish head capsule
  • Three pairs of legs in the chest area

The cockchafer larva differs from the other two by the creeping behavior already mentioned. However, the differences can be seen more clearly in the size of the individual larvae:

  • Garden chafers no more than 2 cm
  • June bugs up to 3 cm
  • Cockchafer up to 6 cm

The cockchafer larva stands out as the largest of the three harmful grubs.


In order to be able to combat harmful beetle larvae in the lawn area in good time or to prevent an infestation, the appearance of the associated beetles should also be known. In spring, usually from May, the first garden chafers (Phyllopertha horticola) and cockchafers, botanically Melolontha, fly. All beetles only live for one to two months.

garden beetle

  • about 1 cm tall
  • day active
  • light brown elytra
  • Body black-green, shiny metallic
  • 6 legs, 2 feelers on the head


  • Size 2 to 3 cm
  • day active
  • red-brown wings
  • Underside, pronotum black
  • both sides of the body black and white zigzag pattern
  • 6 legs, 2 feelers

June beetle

  • Flight time June/July
  • Size 1 to 2 cm
  • Twilight and night active
  • light brown chitin shell
  • slightly hairy - head and neck area
  • 6 legs, 2 feelers

prevent engorgement

If you want to avoid an infestation of the lawn with grubs, you should egg laying contain or prevent the beetle from about May to July. This includes the following measures:

  • Insect protection nets on smaller lawns
  • Do not switch on lighting such as spotlights in the evening
  • Beetles like it bright, avoid the dark and mostly fly during the day (except June beetles)
  • dense, solid turf
  • grubs don't like good watering either
  • Dry, sandy and warm soil invites to lay eggs

fight grubs

It should not be the chemical variant to fight grubs in the lawn. Because in addition to the preventive measures outlined above, there are several other ways to kill beetle larvae sensibly and with harmless means to fight. In the following, we present measures that can be used to protect the lawn from dangerous damage from these pests. Some of them fall under the concept of garden care, others are home remedies based on traditional gardening experience. However, it is important for all control variants to carry them out consistently and at the right time. Sometimes even plants and animals help us to get rid of the voracious maggots quickly.

Gathering instead of killing

Anyone who simply collects the larvae invests time, but has no costs and a very high success rate. Of course, this method can only be used for smaller lawns. When it has rained heavily, the grubs dig up, making collecting these larvae a pleasure. Heavy rain can be replaced at any time by heavy watering of the lawn. This also drives the pests to the top, all that remains is to collect. The larvae also do not like the loosening of the soil by scarifying. But it's always good for the lawn.

Animals as useful helpers

A good and natural way to combat grubs in the lawn is to use their natural enemies to be accommodated in the garden. The following measures are useful:

  • Nesting sites for blackbirds and other birds on trees
  • Hedgehog-protected quarters, safe feeding places

If one or the other treat is offered, "grub eaters" are happy to come and reduce the number of pests in the lawn. Because for the animals mentioned, larvae are a delicacy that they like to eat. Hedgehogs and birds also loosen up the soil, which is good for the lawn and annoys the larvae.

hedgehog in the garden

Fight with plants

Planting plants such as geraniums or delphiniums right next to a lawn or as its "fence" is guaranteed to reduce grubs. The following facts support this:

  • Pretty decorative plants
  • Plants poisonous to beetle larvae
  • Especially poisonous roots
  • Roots are popular food
  • Garlic acts as a deterrent

In smaller lawn areas, garlic plants can often prevent the beetles from laying eggs, which also avoid garlic.


Engraved grubs are easy to lure into traps. This can be easily arranged with compost and horse manure, both of which are particularly popular with beetle larvae. And this is how it works, only a few accessories are required:

  • Large tubs, cachepots or buckets of water
  • cow manure or compost
  • Holes about 50 cm deep
  • Place containers in holes, cover with soil and mark

The horse manure magically attracts especially fresh larvae that are not yet familiar with eating grass roots. You get into the containers and stay in them. They can be dug out at any time and yearly.

housing offer

It is also a good trick to set up a kind of reserve with amenities for beetles and grubs, it brings a number of advantages:

  • distraction from the lawn
  • Protection with deep lawn edges
  • Offer of popular dandelion

The pests get a place in a corner that is well suited to distract from the nearby lawn. A small, overgrown area, planted with dandelions, for example, or with some horse manure as an lure, works wonders. Beetles and larvae cannot resist here, they are allowed to live on in a shielded environment if hedgehogs and birds allow it.


are nematodes invertebrate nematodes, a little less than 1 mm in size, but still clearly visible with a magnifying glass. Particularly suitable predatory Hm nematodes are available on the Internet or in specialist institutes. Mix the contents of the pack with the nematodes according to the instructions for use, spread them over the lawn using pumps and suitable devices, such as a watering can. This method has the following advantages:

  • Biological control, not chemicals
  • Threadworms infect grubs
  • Bacterium kills grubs (only takes 2-3 days)

Be sure to note:

  • Application time between May and October
  • Temperatures above 12°C
  • Wet lawn

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