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 before pupating into adults. 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 with grub-control products.
There are two approaches to dealing with the problem: preventative or curative treatments. Not sure which is the best solution? Read on for factors to consider before deciding on the best grub killer, and then discover some of the top-rated products on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Cedarcide Outdoor Bug Control
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Southern Ag Triple Action Neem Oil
- BEST PREVENTIVE: St. Gabriel Organics 80010-9 Milky Spore Powder
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Bug Sales 50 Million Live Beneficial Nematodes
- BEST READY-TO-SPRAY: Bonide Captain Jack’s Neem Oil
- BEST SELECTIVE: Grubgone!
- BEST BROAD-SPECTRUM: NaturesGoodGuys Live Beneficial Nematodes
- BEST CONCENTRATE: Harris Neem Oil Water-Soluble Concentrate
- BEST ON-CONTACT: BioAdvanced Grub Killer Plus
- ALSO CONSIDER: Lawnbox GrubOut Organic Grub Control
Before You Buy a Grub Killer
Before investing in an insect- and grub-control product, it’s crucial to determine if grubs are really the problem. While these pests can cause grass to turn brown and die, so too can drought, soil that’s bereft of nutrients, moles, and disease.
Here’s how to spot the telltale signs of a grub problem:
- Look for brown patches. Large sections of dead grass in late summer or early fall, when grubs are feeding the most often, are a sign of a grub infestation.
- Dig a hole. Check for grubs in the soil by using a shovel to dig up a few areas in the yard. These pests have brown heads, bulbous bodies, and an off-white color. While a few grubs aren’t a problem, if there are more than five in a square foot, it could indicate an infestation.
- Walk on the turf. Grubs feed on grass roots, breaking the connection between the root and blades of grass. This grub damage creates a noticeable spongy feeling when walking on the turf.
- Pull on the turf. A grub infestation will cause grass to become disconnected from the roots. This would make it all too easy to peel away entire sections of turf from the soil.
How We Chose the Best Grub Killers
These recommendations for the best grub-control products include a variety of formulas to meet the needs of typical users hoping to maintain a pest-free residential landscape.
We narrowed our research to focus primarily on organic grub killers that use natural ingredients, which don’t pose the same threat to wildlife as chemical-based products. These include grub killers that use such natural ingredients as nematodes, milky spore, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), cedar oil, and neem oil.
Since grub killer must typically be applied to an entire lawn to be effective, we also leaned toward products that can be applied over broad areas with either a spreader or a sprayer that attaches to a garden hose.
Keeping size in mind, we also leaned toward those that offered the best bang for the buck with the ability to cover entire yards.
Finally, we included both selective options for those looking to kill pests while preserving the population of beneficial insects as well as broad-spectrum pesticides that can control more than just grubs.
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 are capable of killing grubs while having a minimal impact on the environment.
What makes Cedarcide such a great option for taking out grubs is its ability to do so without having to dump chemicals all over the lawn. Per its name, Cedarcide uses natural cedar oil as the active ingredient that controls a broad range of pests, including grubs. This mix not only makes it safe for use on yards that see plenty of pet and people traffic, but it also won’t leave behind chemicals that can negatively impact wildlife, making it worth its higher price tag.
Cedarcide comes with a bottle of concentrate and a hose-sprayer attachment. To apply, mix the concentrate in the sprayer with the right amount of water, attach a standard garden hose, and saturate the yard. A quart of Cedarcide is enough to treat up to an acre, which is enough for most residential properties. Cedarcide is also available in granules, which are ideal for treating larger yards and are applied with a spreader.
- Form: Concentrate
- Quantity: Quart and gallon bottles
- Coverage area: 1 acre (quart size), 4 acres (gallon size), 3,500 square feet (8-pound bag)
- Compatible insects: Fleas, ticks, mites, ants, mosquitoes, scorpions, wasps, and roaches
- Cedar oil active ingredient makes it safe for people, pets, and wildlife
- Works against a variety of pests, making it ideal for use as a broad-spectrum pesticide
- Hose sprayer and concentrated formula makes it easy to cover large areas
- Costs more than other organic and chemical-based pest-control products
Get the Cedarcide grub killer on Cedarcide.com.
This affordable option from Southern Ag kills grubs and beetles—a one-two punch against both larval and adult forms. When applied to a lawn, the neem-oil compound suppresses grubs’ appetites as it is ingested, deterring them from eating and eventually causing them to die. When neem oil comes into contact with adult beetles, it coats their body, suffocating them. Since neem oil presents very low toxicity to wildlife, it’s a more responsible way to solve a grub problem.
In addition to grubs, Southern Ag’s Triple Action Neem Oil can take out aphids, spider mites, and other pests while also killing off fungus. To apply, dilute the solution with water, then saturate the yard using a sprayer, making sure to shake the container periodically while spraying to mix it.
- Form: Concentrated liquid
- Quantity: 16-ounce and 8-ounce bottles
- Coverage area: N/A
- Compatible insects: Aphids, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, grubs
- A broad-spectrum pesticide that works against a variety of pests and fungus
- Is an effective means of killing both larvae and adult beetles
- Active ingredient neem oil makes it safe for people, pets, and wildlife
- Bottle must be shaken while applying to maintain an even mix
Get the Southern Ag grub killer on Amazon (16-ounce bottle) or The Home Depot (8-ounce bottle).
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 season-long grub-control product from St. Gabriel Organics can prevent a grub 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 the bacteria species Bacillus popilliae.
- Form: Granules
- Quantity: 10 ounces
- Coverage area: 2,500 square feet
- Compatible insects: Japanese beetles
- Long-lasting formula provides grub control for up to 10 years
- Active ingredient is safe for the environment and homes with pets and children
- More affordable than other organic and chemical-based grub-control products
- Milky spore is a selective pesticide that only works with grubs
Get the St. Gabriel Organics grub killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Predatory nematodes are relatively fast-acting biological controls for grubs. Unlike bacteria that must be discovered and consumed by grubs, nematodes actively seek out grubs. Within 2 weeks of using this product by Bug Sales, the grub population will rapidly reduce.
The nematodes will persist and continue to control grubs for up to 18 months—or two full growing seasons. Mix the nematode powder with 1 to 5 gallons of cool water and apply to the lawn with a pump-up sprayer, hose-end sprayer, or watering can. A package containing 50 million live nematodes covers up to 20,000 square feet. The active ingredient is the nematode species Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.
- Form: Granules
- Quantity: 5 million; 25 million; 50 million nematodes
- Coverage area: Up to 20,000 square feet (50 million)
- Compatible insects: Grubs
- Long-lasting formula provides grub control for up to 18 months
- Can be used with a hose sprayer to cover large areas quickly
- Active ingredient is safe for the environment as well as homes with pets and children
- Concentrated formula must be mixed with cool water before use
Get the Bug Sales grub killer on Amazon.
Those who don’t want to bother mixing concentrates and attaching sprayers to get rid of grubs should consider this Bonide product. The neem-oil pesticide comes in a ready-to-use spray bottle, making it one of the most convenient ways to spot treat grubs and the adult beetles that lay eggs. Neem oil kills both adult beetles and grubs on contact, along with a host of other pests, including mites and flies. It also has the added benefit of serving as a fungicide.
While this spray-bottle design makes it unsuitable for covering broad areas, such as an entire yard, it’s ideal for treating grubs, beetles, and other pests lurking on roses and flowers. Since neem oil is a natural active ingredient, it’s also safe for use on vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
- Form: Spray
- Quantity: 1-quart and 1-gallon bottles
- Coverage area: N/A
- Compatible insects: Grubs, beetles, mites, flies
- Spray bottle makes it easy to apply for spot applications
- Read-to-use mix does not need to be diluted with water
- Neem oil kills both larvae and adult beetles on contact
- Not suitable for covering large areas, such as an entire yard
Get the Bonide grub killer at Amazon (1-quart bottle) or The Home Depot (1-quart bottle).
Those looking to kill off grubs without harming beneficial insects should check out Grubgone! This selective pesticide is effective at taking out a broad range of grubs and adult beetles, including Japanese, Oriental, and Asiatic beetles. However, it won’t harm honey bees, pollinators, and other beneficial insects, such as nematodes and parasitic wasps (both natural predators of grubs).
Grubgone! works as both a curative for existing grub problems as well as a preventative. To use Grubgone!, load the granules into a spreader. Ten pounds of GrobGone! is enough to treat up to 5,000 square feet of turf or plants. After application, water the granules using a sprinkler.
- Form: Granules
- Quantity: 10-pound bag
- Coverage area: up to 5,000 square feet
- Compatible insects: Beetle grubs, including Japanese, Asiatic, June, and Oriental beetles; European chafers; grubs
- Broad-spectrum formula works against a wide range of grub species
- Won’t harm certain beneficial insects such as honey bees and other pollinators
- Can be applied quickly over broad areas with a drop spreader
- Not an effective option for killing other types of insect pests
Get the GrubGone! grub killer on GrowItNaturally.com.
NaturesGoodGuys uses microscopic nematodes—a natural predator of grubs—in this organic broad-spectrum pesticide. These tiny predators exist in the soil looking for hosts, such as grub worms, that they can penetrate, kill, and feed on. Since they pose no threat to people, pets, or wildlife, nematodes are an excellent organic option for controlling the grub population.
This blend of three different types of nematodes works on a variety of grub types, including Japanese beetles and lawn grubs. They’re also an effective control for a broad range of other pests like fire ants, roaches, fleas, and aphids. To apply, dilute with water, then use a hose sprayer, watering can, or handheld sprayer to distribute in areas where pest activity has been spotted.
- Form: Nematodes
- Quantity: Pouches of 5, 10, 25, 50, 250, and 500 million nematodes
- Coverage area: N/A
- Compatible insects: Broad range of insects, including grubs, beetles, roaches, and fleas
- Nematodes won’t harm people or pets and is safe for the environment
- Can be used as broad-spectrum pest control against other insects
- Can be applied using a sprayer, watering can, or handheld sprayer
- Takes longer to begin working
Get the NaturesGoodGuys grub killer on Amazon.
This concentrated mix of neem oil, which makes up to 12 gallons of spray, is an ideal option for those who need to control grubs over a larger area. With its 80 percent neem-oil content, this Harris concentrate is capable of taking out grub worms and adult beetles without harming wildlife or presenting a danger to pets and people.
To use, mix Harris Neem Oil with water and add to a sprayer. The neem oil kills any grubs that feed on plants soaked in it and suffocates any adult beetles that come into contact with it. Its concentrated form also makes this oil one of the more affordable means of controlling grubs.
- Form: Concentrated liquid
- Quantity: 8 ounces makes 12 gallons of spray
- Coverage area: N/A
- Compatible insects: Aphids, mites, whiteflies, grubs, beetles
- Uses neem oil, which is safe for human, pets, and the environment
- An 8-ounce container makes up to 12 gallons of spray
- Is an effective means of killing both adults and larvae
- Concentrated solution must be mixed in a separate container with water before application
Get the Harris grub killer on Amazon.
With its ability to kill on contact, as well as penetrate through thatch and into the soil below where grubs hide, BioAdvanced Grub Killer Plus is ideal for those dealing with a serious grub infestation. BioAdvanced uses Dylox, which will kill grubs in just 24 hours. While Dylox isn’t as safe for the environment as products that use natural ingredients, it’s a more effective option for large grub infestations.
Those applying this product should make sure to follow the application directions carefully to minimize its impact on wildlife. In addition to grubs, BioAdvanced is also an effective control for chinch bugs, billbugs, sod webworms, ticks, pillbugs, and army worms. BioAdvanced Grub Killer granules come in 10-pound bags, which is enough to cover 5,000 square feet.
- Form: Granules
- Quantity: 10-pound bag
- Coverage area: 5,000 square feet
- Compatible insects: Grubs, ants, chinch bugs, army worms, sod webworms, mole crickets
- Fast-acting active ingredient Dylox kills grubs in just 24 hours
- Is capable of penetrating through thick thatch to treat grubs in the soil
- Broad-spectrum formula works on a variety of insect pests
- Uses a chemical active ingredient that is harmful to birds and fish
Get the BioAdvanced grub killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
This OMRI-approved grub control uses the parasitic biological agent Bt to control grubs. When released into the soil, grubs ingest Bt, releasing a protein into their system that causes them to stop eating and die. Similar to milky spore, it poses no risk for wildlife, making it an excellent organic option.
Gardeners should keep in mind that Bt must be applied with care, as it will quickly degrade when exposed to sunlight and will only last a few days. Lawnbox should be applied using a spreader, then watered in with a sprinkler. An 8.25-pound bag of Lanwbox is enough to cover about 2,500 square feet.
- Form: Granules
- Quantity: 8.25-pound bag
- Coverage area: 2,500 square feet
- Compatible insects: Grubs, chafers, weevils, emerald ash borers
- Active ingredient kills grubs but won’t harm wildlife, people, or pets
- Easy to apply to over large lawns using a drop spreader
- Selective active ingredient won’t harm most beneficial insects
- Care must be taken when applying as it deteriorates quickly in direct sunlight
Get the Lawnbox grub killer on Amazon.
Or, DIY Your Own Grub Killer
While there are plenty of grub killers available at the local home improvement store, these pest-control products can be pretty pricey, especially for those planning to treat an entire yard. A thriftier alternative is to use one of the DIY solutions below.
- Make grub killer. Ordinary dish soap can be an effective DIY grub killer. Simply mix 3 tablespoons of dish soap with 1 gallon of water and spray it on the lawn. The soap will smother both adult beetles and grub larvae alike.
- Attract natural predators. A natural—and beautiful—way to keep grubs in check is to boost the bird population. Set up bird feeders, birdhouses, and water features to attract birds. Chickadees, blue jays, robins, and other bird species will peck at the soil to munch on grubs.
- Dethatch the lawn. Grubs like lawns that have a thick layer of thatch that they can shelter under. Make the lawn less hospital for them by dethatching and aerating the yard. Dethatching will also make other natural grub killers such as nematodes and milky spore more effective and promote a healthier lawn.
While there are other grub killers on the market, such as BioAdvanced Granules 700745S 24 Hour Grub Killer and Scotts GrubEX1, they didn’t make our list of Top Picks because they contain toxic ingredients like Dylox and chlorantraniliprole, which can cause harm to humans, pets, wildlife, and the environment. For a grub killer that’s effective yet safe for use around pets, people, and the environment, we recommend the Cedarcide grub killer, which uses natural cedar oil to control grubs and a host of other pests. As a budget-friendly option, consider the Southern Ag grub killer, which is a concentrated pest-control product that uses natural neem oil to kill grubs and adult beetles.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grub Killer
Not every grub solution is ideal for all circumstances. Some of the best grub killers act slowly, but an active infestation requires fast action before damaging the lawn. Liquids deliver quick results, but granules may be more convenient because they are easy to spread. Organic grub killers use natural ingredients that are safer for the environment, but stronger chemical-based pesticides may be required to eliminate larger grub infestations. Continue reading to learn some important factors to consider before making a selection.
Liquid vs. Granular
Liquid treatments are fast and effective for treating grub infestations: Simply spray the treatment on the lawn. But gauging the rate of coverage is difficult, and liquid spills are messier and harder to clean than spilled granules. Also, users 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. Watering in the granules using a sprinkler is also an option.
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.
Chemical-based products use such active ingredients as carbaryl and trichlorfon. While both pesticides can be toxic to humans as well as birds, fish, and other wildlife, they might be the only effective way to eliminate a large grub infestation.
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 a locked cabinet, away from children and pets.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the 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 permitting human or pet traffic.
Get to know more about reducing and killing grubs by checking out some of the most frequently asked questions about grub killers 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.