Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Got Grubs? Get the Hot Sauce!

 


Submitted by Paul Hetzler, Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County

At 42% protein, they’re highly nutritious, and across the globe are an important food source, if not a delicacy. In southern Quebec and Ontario we produce them in droves: grubs. The larval life-stages of beetles such as European Chafers and Japanese, Asiatic garden, and Oriental beetles, grubs injure lawns by eating grass roots. It severe cases, turf can be peeled back like a carpet. Damage can be compounded by skunks, moles and crows grubbing for the tasty critters.

Some people gripe about the lack of options for grub control here, as compared to the States where deadly poisons, along with semi-automatic guns and other amenities, can be purchased by kids not even old enough to buy beer. I wouldn’t be too envious of them.

A word on pesticides down south: those available at garden centres are not less dangerous than chemicals restricted to licensed applicators. Active ingredients in so-called “24-hour” grub treatments are among the most toxic pesticides made today, with residual toxicities of up to a week. This poses a particular danger to children, dogs and cats. The fact that kids and pets don’t fund US election campaigns as do chemical companies helps explain the lack of regulation there.

Even the less-hazardous, slow-acting products are a concern. Imidacloprid, a popular grub-control chemical, is believed to contribute to the decline in wild and domestic bees, as well as other pollinators. For this reason, the European Union issued an all-out ban on it and two related chemicals in April 2018.

Anyone bringing grub (or weed) lawn chemicals into Canada from the US is in violation of several prohibitions under Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (S.C. 2002, c. 28). Government online enforcement bulletins show 19 violations of the Act in 2017, with fines between $4,000 and $16,000.

People sometimes transfer lawn chemicals into other containers in the store parking lot, discarding the original package, before crossing the border. I’m not sure about Vermont, but in NY State where I work part-time, that constitutes a Class E Felony under NY’s Environmental Conservation Law. Even if there is only a fine, you can forget about crossing the border for a good many years after a felony charge.

Beneficial nematodes, near-microscopic soil roundworms, are effective against grubs. Plus they’re entirely nontoxic, and don’t harm other organisms. They’re fragile, though, and must be applied shortly after arrival. Nematodes can be ordered online, or through a local garden center. In general, our soils are too cool for milky-spore disease, a biological grub control, to work.

The number-one way to combat grubs as well as weeds is to set your mower at 8-10 centimetres so the grass will make stronger roots and be healthier. And always leave the clippings on the lawn. After two years of this you may never need fertilizer, or have grub and weed problems, again.

Those who insist on a close-shaved lawn will continue to battle with grubs. In that case, I suggest you mix some batter, fire up the deep fryer and go grub up some grub from the lawn.

 

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