Maybe you’ve been relaxing, sitting in the garden, a lovely beverage in hand and a good book in the other. Suddenly you’re sucker punched in the face by a large flying insect! What was that! Right? When you look down to see the flying beast that gave you a walloping, and it turns out it was a beetle, or if we are being more specific here, it was a June bug.
Yeah, you know what we are talking about. These are those beetle-looking things, often about ½ inch to an inch long red-brown bug with wings that make up a hard shell when it isn’t flying around, hitting you in the face. They do not do any harm to people, their sticky legs aren’t our favorite thing of course and stepping on one is gross, but they are harmless… to us.
When it comes to our lawns and gardens, that is when these guys are not our friends. As adults these pests do cause some damage to our gardens by feeding on leaves and stems. But what is the worst is when they are in their immature larvae phase, these are those white grubs that can wreak havoc on your lawn and kill off your grass and your plants. So… how do you get rid of these pests, and keep your garden looking as you want it to?
What are June Bugs?
If we are going to fight off these pests, let’s get to know them. When fighting any nemesis, it is best to know as much as you can about them.
June bugs are often also called ‘May beetles’, or ‘June Beetles’, and they cover a genus of nearly 300 species of beetles that belong to a widely distributed plant-eating sub-family known as Melolonthinae. These beetles commonly appear in the Northern Hemisphere during warm spring times, during the evenings, and they are very attracted to lights.
They feed on flowers and foliage in the nighttime, and can cause considerable damage, but not as much as their offspring, the June beetle larvae. These white grubs (June beetle larvae) are about an inch long and live in the soil. They destroy crops such as corn, grains, potatoes, and they can destroy whole lawns and pastures by severing grass from its roots.
Signs of June Bugs!
Now, we know the enemy, but how can we tell they are there? We could easily spot them if they flew into our faces every time they appeared, but that is not the case, is it? There are, however, a few red flags that will give you a head-up you are having a run in with these pesky critters.
If you witness large flying beetles in the summer evenings after the sun has set or as the sun is setting, they have arrived. They are nocturnal, so if you see large beetles flying around at night. Keep an eye on your garden.
Look at the color of your lawn. If you are seeing brown patches growing on your lawn, this is a sign that underground grubs are likely feeding on the roots of your turf and if you have some dead patches, lift it up and take a look. We know they’re there.
Holes in the lawn are another sign. If you have holes in your lawn, it is probably due to animals like raccoons, skunks and so on, searching your turf for grubs. These predators will know where to find their prey, if they are digging up your lawn… they are telling you exactly what is going on.
If you have a mole problem, these guys eat grubs too, and they go where their dinner is. Moles is a heads-up that something is wrong. Also, if your plant leaves have ragged holes then this is a sign that the adult beetles have been feeding.
Top Ways to get rid of June Bugs!
Now, we know the enemy, we know how to recognize their presence, what do we do now? There are a few things you could do. If you have chickens though, we recommend letting them out onto the lawn, the white grubs are to chickens what chocolate is to us… they will eat up those grubs in no time at all.
While that is a good solution for chicken owners… What about those that don’t have chickens? Well… you still have plenty of options.
1. Trapping the Adults
Not every June bug infestation will need serious intervention. An otherwise healthy lawn could support as many as 5-10 grubs per square foot, dig up a single square foot, and you will have an indication of how many you face. The number of grubs indicates how many adults you face too. You can trap the adults easily though.
Trap the adults with one half cup of molasses and half a cup of water in a narrow necked container. You could get a commercial trap too if you fancied. Trapping the adults will stop the cycle of reproduction. However, this doesn’t work so well if you have loads of grubs.
2. Milky Spores
Use milky spores in fall as grubs are close to the surface then. Mix the milky spores with water and apply it with a sprayer or as a powder and water thoroughly.
It may take years to get control of severe infestations this way, however if you do use milky spores then you will be able to accomplish success without any toxic chemicals at all!
3. Curative Insecticides
We hate using toxic chemicals if possible, but if your infestation is severe sometimes you have no choice. It is best to apply curative insecticides in fall, September being the best time.
Water these chemicals thoroughly. Toxicity to humans and animals is moderate with these insecticides, so use caution, especially if there are children around too.
4. Preventative Insecticides
Another option is using an insecticide containing imidacloprid, clothianidin, or chlorantraniliprole in the early or mid-summer. This type of insecticide however will only kill new-born grubs.
They won’t kill eggs, mature grubs, or beetles. Timing is crucial if you use this technique.
Now, go face your enemy and take back your garden!