Although the larvae of insects can come in many shapes and sizes, the one we home vegetable gardeners come across quite frequently and refer to as grubs are the white semi-circular variety. They are the larvae of a different variety of plant destroying insect such as Japanese or June beetles.
White grubs, also known as scarabs, feed on organic matter and the roots of your plants. If left unattended they could destroy your crop at the root level and when they become adult beetles can damage the foliage of your plants. Grubs also lead to another issue that could lead to even more problems in your home vegetable garden. Moles!
I receive questions all the time about people who have a mole problem in their vegetable gardens. The problem is not the moles. The problem is the grubs. Moles eat grubs. It is their food of choice and if they find an area that has them, chances are that is where they will stay. Forget about getting rid of the mole itself. You must eliminate its food source, the grub.
There are a number of insecticides and/or pesticides that can treat your area for grubs, but as for me, I’d rather not use these in my vegetable garden where I will be growing food. If your grub problem exists under your lawn, then it might be ok to go ahead with one that is recommended by your local garden nursery, but for us vegetable gardeners, milky spores is the way to go.
Milky spores are a soil dwelling bacterium. It is responsible for a disease in white grubs of beetles called as you might guess, milky spore. Milky spores are readily available at many home and garden centers and of course for sale online, and prices range anywhere from $15 to $90 (US) depending on where, how much and when you buy it.
The ideal time to apply milky spore to your soil is when the grubs are closest to the surface. This occurs not too soon after they hatch. As weather gets colder grubs will move deeper into the soil to escape any frost or freezing. In most areas of America the best time to apply milky spores to your soil is in August when the grubs will be closest to the surface. Milky spores is naturally occurring in the environment to white grubs so it is not harmful to beneficial insects, other animals, your food crop or you. All you are doing is introducing your pesky grubs to it.
Here is how it works. You apply the milky spores to your soil as per the instructions on the container you purchased. The grubs will swallow the milky spores through their regular means on food consumption. The spore will then activate reproduction using the grub as a host. Within 21 days the grub will die. Now here is the best part. Upon the death of the grub as it decomposes, the milky spores are then released back into the soil looking for more grubs. Therefore, one application per every other season depending on the size of your garden should be enough.
If you have a problem with moles in your area, know that the problem is not the mole but its food source, the grub. Get rid of the grubs and you will get rid of the moles.
About the Author
Michael C. Podlesny is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club. Enter the word article in the referral code box and receive a 50% discount on the price of any membership.