Lawn digging for grubs is common in late summer and autumn. Grubs are 50% protein, a valuable food source for young skunks and raccoons who have not yet become proficient at catching rats and mice for their dinner.
- Water to just enough to keep the area green, but the soil firm. Soft ground is more attractive to digging.
- Treat lawns and moist shade garden areas to remove grubs in spring and summer with (non-toxic) beneficial nematodes or milky spore. These microorganisms take a couple of months to be effective. Chemicals such as diazanon and malathion kill grubs more quickly, but are hard on the environment.
- Scent and taste deterrents can protect your garden until the attractive grubs are removed. Ammonia is inexpensive, easy to apply, and the noxious fumes keep animals far from it. To protect approx. 10 square feet of garden area, roll up a bath towel like a caterpillar, place on the ground, and soak with ammonia.
A kitchen plastic bag underneath the towel will protect the lawn or garden. The towel wicks the fumes that keep animals away. Re-soak towel in the evening to replace what has evaporated. Ammonia costs approx. $2/ bottle. Once the digging is deterred, wash the towel, and it will be cleaner than ever! Ammonia is a cleaning product.
- Black pepper is reported to work well for small areas that aren't watered often, making animals sneeze when they sniff for grubs!
- Oil infused with cayenne pepper can be sprayed onto lawns and other moist shade garden plants with a hand pump sprayer sold in garden centers, making the area too spicy for digging! Asian markets sell spicy oil for $15 - $20 per gallon. The oil will help the plant retain water, reducing the need for water. This may not be the method to use if children or pets roll in the grass.
- NEW lawns - are chock full of grubs and worms, and will be rolled up like carpet to access them. Mow grass at lowest setting then tack inexpensive chicken wire down with irrigation tubing U stakes. Raise mower blade an inch above normal and mow as normal. Wire can be left on or removed after 2nd autumn if area has been treated to kill grubs.
- Pulsating hot wire at 6" and 12" off the ground is 100% effective to exclude animals from an area until the grubs are removed. Set a timer to come on at night to protect birds during the daytime. Continuous voltage chargers are dangerous to small animals. Use only pulsating voltage chargers!