The transformation has been remarkable! In the span of three weeks, I have gone from complete apathy towards destructive lawn insect species to full on merciless biological annihilation.
After a few years of a devil-may-care approach to the potential for an occurrence of a GrubLapalooza on my lawn, the recent damage found after ignoring the telltale signs in Summer has thrown me completely over to the opposite extreme.
So I broke the glass and pulled out the launch codes for some medieval microbiological warfare.
I called out the Legions of the Milky Spore!
(Yes, kiddies, this is what a high-end computer game looked like in the 1980s!)
In past deliberations on whether to spend $200 to cover by lawn in a protective layer of anti-grub chemicals or let Nature take its course, I have run across recommendations of the milky spore bacteria. But its application looked weird and more time-consuming than dragging out the root-spreader. Add in the mistaken conclusion that grubs were not that big a problem, and the suggestion never took root … so to speak.
After reading up on the milky spore’s process though, it’s a scary little microbe that appears to be damn effective in protecting lawns from the blight of the grub.
The product is not cheap at roughly $30 for a 10 ounce bag of a white powdery substance similar in appearance to powdered sugar. But if it does provide years of protection, it’s well worth the cost and the aggravation of its rather archaic application process.
Death by milky spore is a nasty way to go. (Milky spore is not harmful to beneficial insects, pets, wildlife – except for the grubbies – or humans.) So let’s not alert the good folks at PETIL (People for the Ethical Treatment of Insect Larvae).
Milky spore is a rod-shaped bacteria that lives naturally in the soil. As grubs feed on the roots of grass plants, they incidentally ingest any number of organisms residing in the soil and on the roots themselves. The milky spore however, begins to reproduce once ingested, and slowly begins to feed on the grub from the inside.
This of course results in the larvae’s death, but not until the grub turns a milky white, hence the name. Then when the dead grub decomposes it release BILLIONS of additional milky spores!
Yikes … if you’re a grub larvae.
The endless cycle produces more and more milky spore generations, which obviously can stretch the protective factor of the milky spore treatment.
And I’m beginning to like saying “milky spore”!
Now the application process sounds really weird, but really wasn’t all that drawn out for the half of my Green 1/4 Acre.
Milky spore is applied by the TEASPOON … one teaspoon every 4 feet in an alternating “checkerboard pattern”. Each level teaspoon is applied in a circle between 3-6 inches in diameter. Then you run the lawn sprinkler (or – if you’re lucky – an immediate rain) to water the white powder into the soil.
I held true to the process and pattern, except where I knew or suspected that I had a grub presence where I made sure to place one of my “powder circles”. It didn’t take as long as you might expect. and I intend to treat the rest of the lawn next year.
Now doing this in October is not the recommended time of the year, since the grubs tend to retreat deeper in the soil when the temperatures start to drop, and are not then actively eating. My bet is that the spore I applied this weekend will still be present in the soil when the grubs pop back up closer to the surface with next Spring’s warmth.
I’ll keep you apprised of the results.