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Lawn Worm: What are Lawn Worms and How to Get Rid of Them

Larva of lawn worm in soil

Lawn worms are typically found in the soil of lawns and feed on the roots of grass, causing damage to lawns across America. Recently, a viral Tiktok video has us discussing these garden pests more than ever. But is the giant lawn worm real? And what damage do lawn worms cause, anyway?

As a gardener, there are several things to keep in mind when it comes to maintaining your lawn. One of the most common issues that gardeners face is lawn worm infestation.

In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about lawn worms, including their lifecycle, how to identify and control them, and ways to prevent infestations.

What are Lawn Worms?

Lawn worms, or the larvae of white beetles held by a male hand

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Lawn worms, also known as white grubs, are the larvae of certain beetles. They are typically found in the soil of lawns and feed on the roots of grass. They are commonly found in North America, but can be found in other parts of the world as well.

These pesky little creatures can cause a lot of damage to your lawn if left unchecked. They can destroy the roots of your grass, leaving your lawn looking patchy and unhealthy. If you notice brown patches on your lawn, it could be a sign of a lawn worm infestation.

Lifecycle of a Lawn Worm

Lawn worms go through several stages before they become adult beetles. The eggs of the beetles are laid in late spring and summer and take about two weeks to hatch.

Larvae of cockchafer, which is considered a lawn worm

Larvae – Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Once the larvae hatch, they start feeding on the roots of your grass. They will continue to do so throughout the fall and winter months, causing damage to your lawn. It’s important to keep an eye out for signs of infestation during these months.

In the spring, the larvae will transform into pupae. This is an important stage in their lifecycle, as they will remain in this stage for several weeks. During this time, they are vulnerable to predators and other threats.

Pupa of cockchafer beetle in natural sunlight

Pupa – Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Finally, the pupae will transform into adult beetles. These beetles will then mate and lay eggs, starting the lifecycle all over again.

Cockchafer beetles mating

Adult beetles – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Is the Giant Lawn Worm from Tiktok Real?

If you happen to be on this article because you watched that viral video about the giant lawn worm, then get ready for me to bust from myths for you!

It all started when a TikTok user called Tim the Lawnmower Man posted a video that went viral. Tim is a gardener and often films himself transforming people’s lawns.

In this video, he was filming another user called The Unblocker Aus unclogging a drain who could be seen pulling out a giant lawn worm from beneath the grass in Australia.

Since we all know that Australia is known for its rare insects and animals, many believed it was true but we now know that it was a false story.

And even though that video has garnered millions of views, it’s untrue and there was even a recent uproar due to the misinformation.

Lawn Worm vs Earthworm

Earthworm on soil

Earthworm – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Many people mistake lawn worms for earthworms. However, the two are very different. Earthworms are beneficial to the soil and help to aerate it, while lawn worms can cause damage to the lawn by feeding on its roots.

Earthworms are often referred to as “nature’s plow,” as they help to break up compacted soil and improve its structure. They also help to increase the soil’s fertility by breaking down organic matter and releasing nutrients back into the soil. This makes them a valuable asset to any garden or lawn.

Lawn worms, on the other hand, can be a nuisance for homeowners. They are often found in large numbers, and can quickly cause damage to the lawn by feeding on its roots. This can lead to thinning grass and brown patches, which can be unsightly and difficult to repair.

One way to tell the difference between lawn worms and earthworms is to look at their color. Earthworms are typically a reddish-brown color, while lawn worms are a grayish-white color. Lawn worms also tend to be smaller than earthworms, and have a more slender body.

How to Identify a Lawn Worm

Lawn worm underneath soil causes a brown patch in the lawn

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Identifying a lawn worm can be difficult since they are found below the surface of the soil. However, some signs that you may have a lawn worm infestation include brown patches in the lawn, grass that feels spongy, or birds digging in the lawn for food.

While these signs may indicate a lawn worm infestation, it is important to note that other factors can also cause brown patches in the lawn or spongy grass. For example, overwatering, under watering, or improper fertilization can also lead to similar symptoms.

One way to confirm a lawn worm infestation is to dig up a small section of the affected area and examine the soil. Lawn worms are typically small and white, with a curved body shape. They can often be found in clusters, and their presence can be confirmed by the presence of small mounds of soil, known as worm casts.

Signs of Lawn Worm Infestation

Besides the signs already mentioned, there are several other signs that can indicate a lawn worm infestation.

One of the most obvious signs is grass that easily lifts out of the ground. This is because lawn worms, also known as white grubs, feed on the roots of grass, causing it to become weak and loose in the soil. If you notice that your grass is coming up easily, it may be a sign that you have a lawn worm problem.

Yellow patches of grass indicates a lawn worm infestation

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Another sign of a lawn worm infestation is a decrease in the overall health of the lawn. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as yellowing or browning of the grass, thinning of the turf, or the appearance of bare patches. Since lawn worms feed on the roots of grass, they can cause significant damage to the lawn if left untreated.

In addition to these signs, you may also notice the presence of adult beetles on or around your lawn. These beetles, which are the adult form of lawn worms, are attracted to the grass and can be seen crawling on the surface of the lawn. If you see a large number of beetles, it may be an indication that you have a significant lawn worm infestation.

It’s important to note that while lawn worms can cause significant damage to a lawn, they are not the only pests that can do so. Other common lawn pests include chinch bugs, sod webworms, and armyworms, among others.

If you suspect that your lawn is suffering from a pest infestation, it’s important to identify the specific pest in order to choose the most effective treatment.

What Damage Do Lawn Worms Cause?

Lawn worms can cause significant damage to a lawn. Since they feed on the roots of grass, the grass may begin to die or become weakened, which can result in brown patches throughout the lawn. Plus, birds and other animals may cause further damage to the lawn as they dig for the lawn worms.

It’s important to note that not all lawn worms are harmful to a lawn. Some types of worms, such as earthworms, are actually beneficial to the soil and can improve the health of the grass. However, other types of worms, such as cutworms and sod webworms, can cause extensive damage if left untreated.

One way to identify if a lawn has been infested with harmful worms is to look for signs of damage such as brown patches, thinning grass, or small mounds of soil on the surface of the lawn. Another way is to dig up a small section of the affected area and look for the presence of worms in the soil.

How to Prevent Lawn Worms

Having a lush green lawn is every homeowner’s dream. However, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if it becomes infested with lawn worms.

These pesky creatures can cause significant damage to your lawn, leaving it looking patchy and unsightly. Here are some effective ways to prevent lawn worm infestations:

Promote a Healthy Lawn

A healthy lawn is less susceptible to lawn worm infestations. Regular fertilization and watering can help keep your lawn lush and green, making it less attractive to these pests.

Reduce Thatch

Thatch is a layer of dead grass and other organic matter that accumulates on the surface of the soil. Lawn worms love to lay their eggs in thatch, so it’s essential to keep it under control. You can do this by regularly raking your lawn or using a dethatching machine.

Remove Adult Beetles

Adult beetle on a woman’s hand

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Adult beetles lay the eggs that hatch into lawn worms. Keeping an eye out for these beetles and removing them from your lawn can help prevent an infestation. You can do this by handpicking them or using a beetle trap.

Avoid Overwatering

Another way to prevent lawn worms is to avoid overwatering your lawn. Excessive moisture can create the perfect environment for these pests to thrive. It’s also a good idea to avoid using chemical pesticides, as they can harm beneficial insects that help keep lawn worms under control.

By following these tips, you can help keep your lawn healthy and free from lawn worm infestations. Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to lawn care!

How to Control Lawn Worms with Different Methods

If you already have a lawn worm infestation, there are several methods you can use to control them.

Use Nematodes

One way is to use nematodes, which are a type of microscopic worm that feed on lawn worms. Another way is to use insecticides, but it is important to read the instructions carefully to ensure safe and effective use.

Nematodes are a natural and environmentally friendly way to control lawn worms. They are available in many garden centers and can be applied to the lawn using a watering can or sprayer.

Once the nematodes are applied, they will seek out and feed on the lawn worms, effectively controlling the infestation. Nematodes are safe for pets and humans, so there is no need to worry about any harmful side effects.

Try Insecticides

Worker spraying insecticide on green lawn

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Another method for controlling lawn worms is to use insecticides. Insecticides are chemicals that are designed to kill insects, including lawn worms. However, it is important to read the instructions carefully and follow them closely to ensure safe and effective use.

Insecticides can be harmful to pets and humans if not used properly, so it is important to take all necessary precautions when using them.

When using insecticides, it is important to choose a product that is specifically designed for lawn worms. This will ensure that the insecticide is effective in controlling the infestation.

It’s also important to apply the insecticide at the right time of year, as lawn worms are most active during certain times of the year.

Maintain a Healthy Lawn

In addition to using nematodes and insecticides, there are other ways to control lawn worms. One way is to maintain a healthy lawn by regularly mowing, fertilizing, and watering it. A healthy lawn is less likely to attract lawn worms, so taking care of your lawn can help prevent infestations.

Introduce Natural Predators

Robin in bird bath, add a bird bath to introduce natural predators in the lawn

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Another way to control lawn worms is to use natural predators. Birds, such as robins and starlings, feed on lawn worms, so encouraging these birds to visit your lawn can help control infestations. You can do this by providing bird feeders and bird baths, as well as planting trees and shrubs that provide shelter for birds.

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the method that is best for your situation. By taking steps to control lawn worms, you can ensure that your lawn remains healthy and beautiful for years to come.

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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.