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Anyone who discovers grubs in their garden when digging up doesn't need to panic right away. Not all of these larvae are actually harmful. Rather, there are good and bad. Even the rather harmful white caterpillars in the soil usually do not cause too much damage. However, it becomes critical in the event of a mass infestation with cockchafers. Then there is the greatest danger. Plowing over the entire area usually helps. But that is a rare exception.

Good and bad grubs

These are white larvae that emerge from the eggs that certain species of beetles lay in the soil. The caterpillar-like creatures remain in the ground for up to four years and can grow up to six centimeters long. Her body is extremely fleshy. There are chewing tools on its front part, the rear part is conspicuously thickened. The white basic color of the animals can vary from light gray and orange-brown to black. They feed on humus in the early stages, but some species later switch to the tender roots of grasses and shrubs. A very severe infestation with grubs can lead to the death of the affected plants. In principle, however, a distinction must be made between beneficial insects and pests.

When pests be valid:

  • cockchafer
  • June beetle
  • garden beetle

To the beneficials mainly include:

  • rhino beetle
  • rose chafer

The latter may even be given special protection under the Federal Nature Conservation Act. They must not be caught, injured or even killed. Since they only eat dead plant material, they do not pose the slightest threat to the garden. On the contrary: they make a decisive contribution to the natural formation of humus in the soil.


Recognizing what kind of Egerlingen it is is not that easy. For one thing, they rarely leave the earth, instead remaining hidden deep in the ground. On the other hand, a larva freed from the soil would have to be examined very closely. A clear indication of a possible larval infestation is when entire sections of grass or other plant areas die off. Then you should definitely put your spade on and see what's going on in the ground. The most common reference is made to the larvae of the cockchafer meeting. These can be identified relatively clearly by their mode of locomotion - namely, they move squirming in the side position away.

notice: Dead plants are a sign that there are bad grubs in the soil. Good ones, on the other hand, do not cause any damage to the plants.

The infestation is usually very low. Although there are isolated cases of damage, these are usually kept within very narrow limits. However, it can happen, especially with cockchafers, that there are thousands of grubs in the ground. This mostly depends on the region and the weather conditions in spring. Such an extreme infestation inevitably leads to defoliation and very great damage. It usually doesn't happen every year though.


There are a number of preventive measures that provide relatively reliable protection against Egerlingen infestation. However, both bad and good larvae are affected. The aim is always that the beetles do not lay their eggs in the ground in the first place. The following measures help:

  • Do not light the garden at night as beetles are attracted to the light
  • lay out insect protection nets over beds and compost in May and June
  • Scarify or loosen the lawn regularly
  • Properly maintain the property and, above all, remove weeds and dead wood

A root protection mesh built into the ground is also a very reliable form of protection. However, this measure requires an extremely high amount of work and is therefore only an option in the rarest of cases.



The actual fighting of the caterpillars in the ground usually has to be done manually. As a rule, this means that a partial area with dead plants is dug up and the grubs that appear are collected by hand. The larvae should then be disposed of in the garbage can. Exposing the animals to another place is not recommended. Certain plant species are also very helpful in combating it. Delphiniums and geraniums in the garden contain substances that are poisonous to the larvae. Garlic, in turn, drives the animals away.

Finally, it is also possible to get rid of them with nematodes, i.e. roundworms. Nematodes are now available in specialist shops. On average, one pack of the little worms is enough for a lawn area of around 20 square meters. The worms attack the larvae and ensure their death in a completely natural way.

tip: If you design your garden in such a way that hedgehogs, mice and birds feel comfortable there, you have very effective partners at your side to combat white caterpillars in the soil. For these animals, they are a delicacy that they specifically look for in the ground.

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