Grubs/June Bugs Everywhere! Need an Organic treatment plan

cabtab503(8b)May 25, 2014

We live in Central Texas, Zone 8b. We own chickens, dogs and a few alpaca. We do not want to use chemicals because of the animals - and us. This month we have been overridden by june bugs! What I thought were worm castings have turned out to be castings from the June bugs (and their grubs?). Every night the bugs fly at our outdoor light and every morning they have covered the wall of the garage on which the light is affixed, as well as the ground around it.

Now the chickens love it! Once we realized the things were coming out of our yard we let the chickens out of their run early in the morning to collect them. But I don't think it will be enough. I want to order and apply beneficial nematodes but need a treatment plan. Here is what I am thinking of doing:
- Order the nematodes (but what variety?)
- Borrow an aerator and spike the yard by pulling it behind our yard tractor to give the nematodes plenty of room to travel because we have clay dirt.
- Water the yard good, if it hasn't rained recently.
- Apply the nematodes in the evening, when they arrive.
- Water the yard again so they have plenty of wiggle room to get down to the grubs.
- Continue to water thoroughly once a week.
- Apply horticultural molasses to the yard every 7-10 days to make sure all the good organisms stay happy.
- Pray the nematodes have taken care of the grubs so I still have a reasonably good looking yard in the fall when they are due to hatch next.
- Apply compost late fall/early winter (we just started the compost pile. It may not even be ready to apply by then).

Now, I am not certain I have planned these things in an order which will be most successful and I may have left something out. I constructed this plan after doing some research on the internet. Feedback? Advice? Please. And Thank you.

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They're swarming and it's a timing thing. The numbers will go down soon as they don't live long, but you want to do some serious sexual interruption here, if you can, to cut back on the next wave of bugs.

A modern UV zapper (or two) left on at night without other outside lights, or right beside an outside light that's inconvenient to shut off, can be a somewhat effective remedy. You supply the birth control and the chickens continue to eat organic food. Everyone wins!

Work both stages. You may be surprised at June Bug grub density. This sounds like a long term project.

>> Pray the nematodes have taken care of the grubs ... in the fall when they are due to hatch next.

You have Fall rains after a long-ish dry spell, don't you? That might be your Fall trigger.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Research shows that those "bug zappers" kill more beneficial insects then the ones we want killed.
Now is not the time to try to control the grubs since they are becoming the adult beetles you are seeing. These adults, at least the ones your chickens don't eat, will be mating and then will lay eggs that will hatch in August. The time to apply any grub control is late July to early August just before those eggs hatch when the grubs are small and easier to control.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Scarab Beetles

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 7:48AM
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Thank you both for your replies.

A bug zapper had not occurred to me. I do not own one and I understand how it would be indiscriminate in killing bugs, good and bad.

I appreciate the link to the beetle info. So, applying nematodes in July for a greater chance of success as well as cost effectiveness seems the way to go.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 11:34AM
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Look up "Milky Spore" powder. It's a bacterium that only kills grubs but not the adult beetles. I currently have cutworms in my lawn and stumbled upon this product. I've never used it but as per the reviews I've read this product is organic and won't harm beneficial insects or any animals. I purchased it anyway and have it on stand-by in the event I ever need it. It's been around for some time so I'll assume it's safe to use but do some more research and decide for yourself. If the nematodes don't take care of the problem this might be an organic alternative.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 11:19AM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

In my yard, out in the country in east Tennessee, skunks are voracious and indiscriminate grub eaters.

As I understand it, Milky Spore is specific to Japanese Beetles.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 11:23AM
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Milky Spore Disease, "Bacillus popilleae" is a bacterium that the grubs of Scarab beetles ingest, eat, and which then settles in their digestive system and causes them to stop eating which causes them to die. It is effective in young grubs, fairly newly hatched to a few weeks old and after that not. The bacterium stays viable in the soil for many years. Contrary to some misinformation I have seen of late this bacterium does not move around in the soil and does not "attack" any grubs, the grubs must find and ingest the bacterium, When a grub that was infected by the bacterium dies, more of the spores are spread around that area waiting for another grub to ingest them.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 8:01AM
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It's worth noting that Milky Spore takes up to 3 years to build up and become an effective grub control. That is why you often hear conflicting reports about how effective they are. The good news is that once you build up a nice community of the bacterium, it lasts for a decade or more.

The better short term solution is to apply beneficial nematodes.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 11:07PM
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Interesting. If it takes up to 3 years to become effective then I better get started.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 8:31AM
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Milky Spore Disease is effective as soon as it is put down, however, because the bacterium are not everywhere, and because they do not move around in the soil, many grubs may not eat any. The bacterium gets spread around in soil as the grubs that do ingest some die (the grubs do move around) and the spores are put back into the soil. The longer the disease spores are in the soil and the more grubs ingest some and die, the more effective they become which is why some people think it takes 3 to 5 years before MSD becomes effective.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 7:38AM
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