nasty little white grubs

WickedHeart(z11SanDiego)September 25, 2005

Does anyone know a natural way to get rid of those nasty little white grubs? I have a desert tortoise and I don't use pesticides in my yard.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

What are the nasty white grubs doing?

If they're only in the compost, they belong there; they're part of nature's composting crew.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 9:43PM
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Well, right now most of them are dead and stinkin'. Kinda feel bad about squishing them. My husband wanted to know "What did you do that for? The box turtle likes to eat them." I wasted perfectly good turtle food. I should have thought about that because I catch slugs(totally gross)and snails for the box turtle. I think I got a little overly upset because they were playing in one of my brugs.........

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 10:35PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

They are disgusting, aren't they? I can barely look at them. But they make nice compost out of the big pile in the back yard.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 11:22PM
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They are even nastier to touch!! Not as bad as slugs but pretty gross. They try to chew on you. Well at least they don't slime you like the slugs do.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 11:34PM
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CAstarter(Z9 OC, CA)

I have seen several GRUB LOOKING things. One was grayish white and curled up when I was diggin to put in lettuce. The other one was a little larger and was yellowish. Then, I pulled some nut grass and this orange looking critter, not a grub but not sure what it was, was underneath. Are any of these "good" or should I squish sthem all with the shovel?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 3:44PM
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I organically garden and have gobs of the white grubs. I find them quickly, and they multiply after I have worked with my organic compost.

Soil is living, and earthworms, bacteria, microorganisms, etc., create and maintain the soil, keeping it lively.

When I find the grubs, which seem to multiply after applying compost, I pick them out gently, and when I am through working my soil, I replace them back, and they crawl deep into the soil, out of sight.

I don't know what they are, but for some reason, I feel they are a positive for soil. I would like to know what they are and what they do for the soil -- if they are beneficial or harmful. I used to squish these huge worms until I found out they were the first process to the Monarch butterfly. Butterflies and moths are Earth's pollinators. When I found out these huge, disgusting worms were the beginnings of gorgeous butterflies, I felt like kicking myself.

We need to find out what the white grubs are, but my plants and soil don't seem the worse for their existence.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 3:45PM
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I'm not positive but I believe the white grubs in my garden turn in to beetles(june Bugs).

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 4:50PM
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Do you think they are beneficial or harmful in the soil? It does appear that the more I organic garden, the more of them I have. I guess most beetles have larvae.

I am very careful now not to squish big worms in case they are beneficial and will eventually become butterflies or something else that is valuable. So, I am gentle with the white grubs, letting them do their thing. I have never witnessed the grubs eating my plants. They seem to hide in the soil, so I thought they were a natural part of the soil and had a job to perform for soil.

Anyone ever witness the white grubs attacking plants? Just because I haven't, doesn't mean they do not!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 5:01PM
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saxophone(sunset15 z9 CA)

I did a quick google search for white grubs. If the critters you describe are in fact "white grubs", then they are not beneficial. White grubs are the larval stage of various beetles, particularly the June Bug (a.k.a. May Bug). The grubs are considered a pest to turf lawns. They attack grasses and grain crops. They cut the stem and eat the roots. This causes something resembling drought stress.

I'm not an expert. I ran across these critters while pulling weeds from my lawn. After reading this forum, I decided to look up the info.

Here are some useful URL's.

June Beetle

White Grubs

June Beetle in

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 5:22PM
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Saxophone: Thank you for all the much-needed information. I was hoping they were beneficial but guess not.

I don't want them munching on the roots of my cherished plants. I am certainly not going to put them back in the soil ever again.

Thanks so much

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 6:32PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Sheesh. People need to get a grip. Please don't jump to conclusions about what is called a "grub" nor its possible ID.

First off, Japanese beetles DON'T live/reside/eat in San Diego!

Second, we don't yet have a size, shape, color, and location of the "grubs." That info would help determine who they are.

So, please WickedHeart, tell us a few of those details.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 1:33AM
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I would guess the wickheart's white grubs are the same as mine about 30mm long, 8mm wide. They have 6 legs near the front of the body with a brown head and a greyish tail. When washed they have a white body. While I haven't seen them turn into beetles I have seen green iridescent beetles flying around in June.(i.e.June Bugs) I believe they eat the roots of my plants. If you do a google image search on "white grub" they show one close enough to be cousins of the grubs in my garden.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 3:12PM
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Sachis2112(z10 CA)

According to the map at Japanese Beetles do live in San Diego and an eradication effort is underway.

As for June bugs... I haven't seen irridescent ones... Only the ugly brown things that fly around at night. Maybe I better Google to see for sure what they look like. Hmm...

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 6:08PM
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launate(z9 CA/Sunset 15)

If your bugs look like this:

then it is the larvae of the June Beetle. They are a nuisance to lawns. Don't know how bad they are for regular vegetable/flower beds. They can be controlled with beneficial nematodes or with poison.

When I find them in my compost pile, I pick them out and put them in a bucket for birds to eat.


Nathan Lau
San Jose, CA

#include <std.disclaimer>

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 7:04PM
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Yes, those are the little boogers!! Thanks, I didn't want to go out digging in the yard so I could pose them for their glamour shots. June beetles are the iridescent green bugs, right?

My husband feeds the grubs to the box turtle so unless I see them doing some extreme damage I think we can coexist. If I really need to get rid of them I'll use beneficial nematodes.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 7:55PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)


Please note that the link you refer to states "not established."

- - -

Beyond that, here's good background info for everyone:

As it turns out, Japanese beetles (JBs) are unwanted, statewide, in CA. Thus, a trapping program is in place from (if I recall correctly) from May through October. In other words, the state and county agriculture departments are constantly vigilant.

Once a JB is detected/trapped, a more intense trapping protocol is put into place. Then, if needed, eradication is instituted.

JBs get transported into CA (and elsewhere they aren't yet established) via various means, among them hitchiking in baggage compartments of commerical airplanes.

Whenever someone in CA suspects they have a JB grub, it should be submitted to that person's county agricultural commission to verify the ID.

To my knowledge, the only JB "finds" in CA have been via official trapping protocol. (But then, I moved from Long Beach, CA, about 8 years ago.)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 10:30PM
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saxophone(sunset15 z9 CA)

June Beetles do come in different colors. The ones that I've seen in San Jose are brown. There is a green variety. Take a look at this page for photos of some beetles including a Green June Beetle (about half way down the page).

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 12:29PM
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tracyjo(z11, sunset z24)

i abhor grubs - they gross me out something awful. i'm going to get beneficial nematodes for my lawn area. but what should i do about the grubs and the other unwanted bugs in my compost pile?? i don't want them in the flower beds. (pill bugs, grubs, those things that remind me of silverfish but i can't remember their name, etc.) p.s. my pill bugs eat new growth. when my beds become infested with them it's like fleas on a dog. my nuresery said the bugs could be disposed of when i "sift" my compost. sift????? holy moly, i didn't know i was suppose to sift it....

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 4:55PM
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launate(z9 CA/Sunset 15)

I have quarter-inch hardware cloth that I drape over my wheelbarrow and use that to sift my compost. It's to get the really finished stuff separated from the unfinished stuff. And it helps because you can see the grubs and earthworms. Grubs get removed, earthworms stay.


Nathan Lau
San Jose, CA

#include <std.disclaimer>

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 2:37AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

This past year, I acquired two nice Barred Rock hens. Not only do they give me nice fertilizer, eggs and if I had the inclination to expand the venture, meat.

They also eat the grubs when I sift the compost, that they eat to make eggs, to give fertilizer, to make meat. This summer, I saw much fewer green iridescent bettles (June versus Japanese) flying in my garden.

I think I found a good solution. Those grubs/sow bugs, etc., can only stay in the coompost pile, so long as they are "working."

I use the sifting method mentioned above, with half inch galvanized hardware cloth stretched over a frame, then laid on the wheelbarrow. When the compost is sifted, I let it sit in the barrow for the birds to clean out the unwanted pests before I dump it into my planting areas.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 1:33PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was asked:
"...but what should i do about the grubs and the other unwanted bugs in my compost pile?? i don't want them in the flower beds..."

-- They are normal residents of a compost pile.
-- They eat dead stuff.
-- They don't eat live plants. (The main exception here is that HUGE populations of sowbugs and pillbugs can damage seedlings, mainly by scritching around in the soil.)
-- They are blamed for eating live plants and such fruits as strawberries, but they are only cleaning up damage that occurred before they arrived.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 1:57PM
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Sachis2112(z10 CA)

Thansk, Jean, for all that background info!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 5:02PM
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Maureen Janda

Those large grubs with the orange heads turn into the iridescent green beetles which eat my ripe tomatoes. I don't encourage them in my garden. I stomp the grubs. Don't know what other kinds of fruits they damage. Luckily, the beetles are slow-moving, so I reach out with my clippers, close my eyes, try not to listen to the crunch and clip - dead beetle. Shudder.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 12:39PM
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What a relief! I thought I had done something to my 8-year-old compost pile to cause those white grubs. I'll go with the theory that they are my "friends" unless they kill this years veggies...then they all die!") They are also all over my garden plots for the first time. Where they suddenly came from is a mystery. I sift the compost too. I made a screened box and sift it over the barrow. I just like the look of it sifted and I like to remove the stones from it. Thanks friends for all your wisdom.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 2:39PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was said:
"Those large grubs with the orange heads turn into the iridescent green beetles which eat my ripe tomatoes."

Those large green fruit beetles eat over-ripe fruits. They won't damage tomatoes which are intact and/or aren't over-ripe or otherwise damaged.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 6:38PM
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peachiekean(z10A CA)

I have nothing against the grubs themselves. My problem is the critters invading my little garden and digging holes everywhere trying to find those grubs. So do I sift them out with hardware cloth? That sounds like a lot of work. I think my soil is too rich at this point with compost and hence all the big grubs. There was the death of some healthy pepper plants a couple of years ago that I suspect has to do with grubs. I need to make them go away fast. Help!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 9:39PM
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Read somewhere that gophers go after this white grubs. I kill them when I see them because I do have a problem with gophers who have destroyed some of my plants.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 8:11AM
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Gophers are herbivores, so they wouldn't be going after the grubs. Moles might. Moles don't eat plants, but their tunneling might inadvertently dig up roots or plants. Mom has tons of moles on her property, but so far, no plant deaths. I have gophers, and I'd love to swap critters with her. :D


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 9:15AM
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elladog(z10, SoCalif, Sunset 22)

Yep, the ones in our yard grow up to be June bugs. Skunks love those grubs. I'm not crazy about skunks coming into the yard to frolic around, but they have really reduced the June bug population around here. When you see little holes that the skunks dig in your yard, that's what they're digging up.

The really large, loud, iridescent green beetles with tan edges are fig-eater beetles (also known as green June bugs, but unlike other June bugs they fly in the daytime). Their grubs are extra large, about 1 to 1.5 inches. The beetles eat ripe figs and other ripe thin-skinned fruit (like apricots or plums). They donÂt eat much; theyÂre more interested in mating than eating. The grubs eat decaying organic matter, such as compost, and grass roots. TheyÂre pretty harmless unless you get too many of them in your lawn.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 5:14PM
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debbysunshine(san diego)

I live in San Diego too. I purchased Nematodes at Armstrong which if it isn't too late are sprayed on the grass at night and are supposed to kill the grubs. So it might work for you.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 10:29PM
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twotzus(Z10/ sunset 24)

I live in San Diego, in Point Loma. I hate those nasty grubs! They attract skunks and possums, who then dig up bulbs and new plantings. We have too many skunks in Point Loma as it is! I do notice an increase after applying compost and I have used the nematodes with some success. I get them at Walter Andersons.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 1:31AM
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I have white grubs in my compost but am concerned about what will happen when I add the compost to my flower beds. Will the grubs damage the roots of my plants? How do I handle this?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 3:52PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Naw. They don't do much damage. They prefer dead stuff, which is why they are in your compost pile to begin with.
The main gardening problems associated with the larvae of scarab beetles is oppossums and skunks digging for tasty grub dinners.

When I started my vegetable garden two years ago, I threw about six inches of compost into the raised beds and sowed my carrots, beets, and radishes. The seedlings were knocked over by the foraging grubs of cotinis mutabilis (the big green scarab beetle sometimes called fig-eating beetle). They didn't eat the roots, mind you, they just wiggled through the soft soil and pushed the small plants over. Now I pull the big boys out when I spread compost and throw them back into the compost pile, where they work hard for me.

By the way, they are delectable to both scrub-jays and to domestic chickens. You can train a bird to swim if you have enough grubs. Hmmm, I wonder what they taste like? I'll get back to you...

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 5:15PM
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Had tons of green June bugs the beginning of Sept. They were eating my apples! I hate those white grubs, and if I dig and find any, I smash them with the shovel or whatever I have. From what I've read, gophers go after them, and that would be great except the gophers destroy my plants and lawn.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:00PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Those green June bugs -- aka green fruit beetles -- typically eat only overripe fruit.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 9:17PM
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Jillberto(Z9 CA)

In my household we call them "compost shrimp" and regularly feed them to my chickens.

With a nickname like compost shrimp it kind of puts puts a different perspective on this local source of protein.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 11:35PM
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1)June bug grubs eat grass/plant roots, not compost.
2)The grubs that DO eat compost are the bigger GREEN FRUIT BEETLE grubs.
White Milkly spores will kill both grubs ( buy at Lowes) will last up to ten years.
They both are brown & green.
I have tons of coffee waste & tons of the GFB's.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:03PM
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GET RID OF THOSE GRUBS WHEN YOU SEE THEM! most of them are bad and will eat the roots of your plants. I found 16 in 1 blueberry's pot (during transplanting) they ate all of the roots off, luckily I was able to revive it and new roots have started coming in. There are a few varieties of grubs that are beneficial and eat the bad grubs but IMO its better to just smash them when you see them, better safe than sorry. I cant remember what the names of the good grubs are sorry.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 7:58PM
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Greetings to the grub problem,
I weed my friend's organic garden & it is grub abundant. Gross little critters those grubs all fat & juicy. A neighbor has ducks & chickens & you should see them gobble up those squirming, fat, juicy morsels. They just love grubs. Dig'm up & use them for food. I'm sure you can find somebody waiting to eat them.'m'm good!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 7:21PM
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Well, I think I just saw my first grub here in Hawthorne, CA. I'm going to talk to my Pest Control people because we have many June Bugs and have found Japanese Beetles. My pest control guy had pointed the JB to me. Our neighbor behind us has an orange tree and Fig tree. We have a small dog and I hate to put poison on the grass but will have to see what we can do

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 9:15PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

The poison is far worse than anything the insects can do. If you have discovered true Japanese Beetles please call the State of California Agriculture department immediately. They are not established in California, and if they do get a foothold, our entire state will be affected. Here's a link showing the Fig beetle and the Japanese beetle for comparison:

You can purchase nematodes that will kill the grubs and not your dog. There's a link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grub-away nematodes

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:30AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Use a plastic compost bin with a lid. Keep the lid on. If you use an open compost pile small files will come and lay eggs in your compost. The eggs will hatch. These things are not a natural part of composting, but only if you did not keep the lid on. People get grossed out when they are told they have to deal with unpleasant things and that turns them off to composting.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Grubs are the immature stage of many types of beetles. Some are so similar that only an entomologist can distinguish them.
Japanese beetles definitely should be reported, but many are misidentified. Japanese beetles are smaller than a penny. The larger iridescent beetles you see in the summer are not Japanese beetles.

It sounds like your tortoise has solved the problem for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Japanese beetle and green june bug

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:39PM
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peterbb(z10 SanDiego CA)

These grubs in San Diego or other parts of S. California are almost always Green Fig beetle larva (Cotinis mutabilis) not june beetle larva (but they are related). The larva love to eat compost, the bugs are huge and eat decaying fruit but I haven't seen them cause damage to fruit or plants. However, we are having a problem in that we mulched and composted over our front lawn to convert to vegetable garden & orchard, and included some uncomposted coffee grounds and tea from cafes. Now we have grubs and then we have raccoons coming at night to dig up the grubs, and they frequently dig out plant starts and tear up newly seeded beds. Ugh.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 2:36PM
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