The white grubs that damage lawns are the larval life stage of several beetle species. Japanese beetles, June bugs, masked chafers, May beetles, and other beetle larvae feed on plant roots as they progress through their development before pupating into adults. In low concentrations, grub damage may not be noticeable in a lawn. But when the population swells, especially in late summer, the grass won’t regrow roots fast enough to keep up with the hungry larvae. When this happens, it’s time to treat the infestation.
A grub infestation can turn your beautiful green lawn into a patchy wasteland in a matter of weeks. There are two approaches to dealing with the problem: either a preventative or a curative treatment. Not sure which is the best solution? Read on to learn the factors to consider before deciding on the best grub killer for your lawn, and then discover some of the top-rated products on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: BioAdvanced Granules 700745S 24 Hour Grub Killer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Scotts GrubEX1 Grub Killer for Lawns
- BEST PREVENTATIVE: St. Gabriel Organics 80010-9 Milky Spore Powder
- BEST READY-TO-SPRAY: BIOADVANCED 700280B Complete Insect Killer
- BEST FAST-ACTING: Ortho BugClear Lawn Insect Killer
- BEST BROAD-SPECTRUM: Bonide (BND60360) – Insect and Grub Control
- BEST ALL-SEASON: BIOADVANCED 700715M Season-Long Grub Control
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grub Killer
Not every grub solution is ideal for all circumstances. The best grub killer acts slowly, but an active infestation requires fast action. Liquids deliver quick results, but granules may be more convenient because they are easy to spread. Continue reading to learn some important factors to consider before making a selection.
Liquid vs. Granular
Liquid treatments are fast and effective for treat grub infestations: Simply spray the treatment on the lawn and you’re done. But gauging the rate of coverage is difficult, and liquid spills are messier and harder to clean than spilled granules. Also, you may need to dilute some products with water before application.
Granular grub killers are convenient to apply with a handheld or walk-behind lawn spreader. After spreading, simply return any remaining granules in the spreader to the bag for storage. While this is a relatively clean and convenient way to treat, it’s important to note that the best time to apply is just before rainfall, so the active ingredients penetrate deep into the soil. Otherwise, you’ll have to water the lawn after application.
Organic vs. Synthetic
Organic grub killers include milky spore and beneficial nematodes. Both of these products use biological agents to prey on grubs in the soil. They are completely safe for people, pets, and other beneficial insects and highly effective in eliminating grub infestations—and the effect lasts for years. However, they work slowly and may not be ideal for active infestations.
Synthetic treatments work quickly. Many offer season-long control (about three to four months) of white grubs. Most of these products are less selective for grubs, so they also kill a broad range of non-targeted species. They are an excellent choice to stop grub problems and are best applied only to affected areas.
Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and applying insecticides, both organic and synthetic. Wear protective clothing such as gloves, eyewear, long sleeves, and closed-toe shoes while mixing and handling. Avoid splashing and spills of liquids. Dry products may be dusty. Pour in a well-ventilated area, and wear a mask to avoid breathing dust.
When not in use, always store chemicals in their original containers and in a locked cabinet, away from children and pets.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application rate and timing between applications. Mix liquid concentrates according to the specified dilution rate. Wear rubber boots while applying liquid treatments, and rinse off the residue afterward. To keep applications on target and eliminate spray drift, avoid applying in windy weather. Allow treated areas to dry thoroughly before allowing human or pet traffic.
Our Top Picks
White grubs can be extremely destructive, and the best grub killer is a solution. Whether the purpose is to halt an active infestation or prevent one from ever occurring, these picks represent some of the top-rated products on the market in a variety of categories to keep a lawn looking pristine.
Apply BioAdvanced 24 Hour Grub Killer at the first sign of grub activity to stop the infestation immediately. These easy-to-spread granules kill grubs on contact. Users can apply in spring and summer with any rotary or drop spreader for season-long control of grubs and other listed insects. This product also kills ants, ticks, billbugs, chinch bugs, crickets, cutworms, earwigs, grasshoppers, and more. The 20-pound bag covers up to 10,000 square feet. The active ingredient is 9.3 percent Trichlorfon.
- Granules kill grubs in 24 hours
- Also works on ants, earwigs, cutworms, ticks, and more
- Bag treats up to 10,000 square feet
- Effective on any kind of lawn
- May not work on garden beds
One application of Scotts GrubEX1 kills and prevents grubs from causing extensive lawn damage all season long. One annual application can also help prevent Japanese beetle infestations. This product will not harm earthworms, beneficial nematodes, or soil bacteria and is safe for wildlife when used as directed. The granules are formulated to flow efficiently through rotary, drop, and handheld spreaders. This value-priced 28-pound bag treats up to 10,000 square feet. The active ingredient is 0.08 percent Chlorantraniliprole, considered a safer alternative insecticide that has significantly fewer negative effects on non-target species, like bees.
- Kills grubs, cutworm larvae, crane fly larvae, and more
- One treatment lasts up to 4 months
- Works with any granular spreader
- Can be applied with pre-emergent herbicide or fertilizer
- Not for use near water source like a river or pond
Milky spore is a naturally occurring microscopic bacteria that feeds on beetle larvae. The spores grow and reproduce in the soil, reaching peak strength within 3 years and persisting another 10 or more years. This environmentally friendly product from St. Gabriel Organics can prevent such an infestation without harming people, animals, or beneficial insects. Apply the dry powder in concentrated deposits (spoonfuls) at 3- to 4-foot intervals across the lawn or garden. This 10-ounce package treats up to 2,500 square feet. The active ingredient is bacteria species Bacillus popilliae.
- Organic spores powder made of grub-eating bacteria
- Won’t harm beneficial insects or earthworms
- One application lasts for several years
- Safe for use around water sources
- Only effective for Japanese beetle grubs
- May not cover as much lawn as expected
BIOADVANCED 700280B Complete Insect Killer offers a two-step approach for controlling grubs and many other pests. It includes an insecticide that kills on contact and a systemic insecticide that protects grass from the inside out. This broad-spectrum insect spray kills and protects against grubs and other soil-dwelling insects for up to three months. It is also effective against 62 listed pests, including ants, chiggers, deer ticks, fleas, and others in soil and turfgrass areas.
Surface insects die within 24 hours. Attach the ready-to-spray bottle nozzle directly to a garden hose to mix and spray at the same time. This 32-ounce liquid formula treats up to 5,334 square feet. The active ingredients are 0.72 percent Imidacloprid and 0.36 percent Beta-cyfluthrin.
- Hose spray is effective on lawns and soil
- Kills grubs, mosquitoes, and 500 more insects in 24 hours
- Insects in the soil are prevented for 3 months
- Bottle seems to empty quickly
Ortho BugClear Lawn Insect Killer is a broad-spectrum insect killer that controls scores of species, both at the surface and below ground. To treat grubs, spread the granules in the infested lawn area, water them in, and grubs begin to die within hours. In addition to lawns, this product is safe to use as directed in flower beds and vegetable gardens. Apply with any rotary, drop, or handheld spreader. One treatment kills and protects against grubs and most other insect pests for up to three months. This 20-pound bag treats up to 20,000 square feet. The active ingredient is 0.115 percent Bifenthrin.
- Granules kill ants, grubs, ticks, fleas, spiders, and more
- Protects for up to 3 months or 6 months for ants
- Begins working on contact
- 10-pound bag treats up to 16,500 square feet
- May not last as long as advertised
Bonide Insect and Grub Control is infused with the power of a combined contact and systemic insecticide to kill grubs and dozens of other insects above and below ground. Use a rotary, drop, or hand spreader to apply over the affected area and water thoroughly to activate. The systemic component is most effective when applied in early summer. This 6-pound bag treats up to 7,500 square feet. The active ingredients are 0.5 percent imidacloprid and 0.1 percent Lambda-cyhalothrin.
- Granules work on lawns and around house foundation
- Kills grubs, fleas, cutworms, crickets, and more in 24 hours
- Best to use in July and August
- Might also kill earthworms
BIOADVANCED 700715M Season-Long Grub Control is a systemic grub control plus fertilizer formulated to eliminate grubs and heal grass simultaneously. The systemic insecticide becomes a barrier to feeding grubs all season long, while the nitrogen and potassium plant food provides the nourishment the stressed grass needs to grow back strong and healthy. Apply once at any time spring through summer at the first sign of grub damage. Use a rotary or drop spreader to apply the granules, then water them in. This 12-pound bag treats up to 5,000 square feet. The active ingredient is 0.25 percent imidacloprid.
- Kills grubs, stink bugs, aphids, whiteflies, and more
- Helps improve growth of grass roots
- Spring application works all season
- Not for use near vegetables or fruit
An unhealthy lawn is a prime breeding ground for insects of all shapes and species. Keep your lawn healthy and pest-free by applying our top recommendation for the best grub killer: BioAdvanced Grub Killer. If you prefer an organic method, opt for the St. Gabriel Milky Spore Powder, which is a natural spore bacteria that targets the common Japanese beetle grub.
How We Chose the Best Grub Killers
These recommendations for best grub killer include several products that are formulated to combat the life cycle of grubs, and in many cases, other common yard pests like earwigs, cutworms, fleas, and many more. If you have more than one pest problem in your yard, there’s likely a solution on our list. We researched products that use granules to prevent grub growth as well as liquid formulas that can be sprayed.
Our favorite picks include grub killers that work in a short period of time, yet last for several weeks or even years. The organic product on our list has shown effectiveness for years since it’s a natural microbe that kills grubs. As with any pesticide, safe handling is recommended to protect yourself from direct or inhaled contact with any liquid or granules. The grub killer products on our list are listed as safe for pets and family after the initial treatment has dried.
FAQs About Grub Killers
Get to know more about grubs and the products that control them by checking out some of the most frequently asked questions about grub killer below.
Q. Do grub control products also kill bugs?
The active ingredients in many synthetic grub control products kill other bugs as well. Each product is slightly different, so be sure to read the label to avoid unwanted collateral damage and control additional bugs.
Q. Can I use grub killer in flower beds?
Yes, but avoid broad-spectrum sprays that will harm pollinators and helpful insects. For this reason, flower and vegetable gardens are ideal locations to apply beneficial nematodes or milky spore.
Q. Can I seed grass after applying my grub killer?
Yes. The active ingredients in grub killer are safe to use with new lawns, whether seeded or sodded.
Q. How long does it take to kill grubs?
Some products begin killing grubs in as little as 24 hours.