Lawn Torn up by Skunk

Asked April 20, 2018, 3:30 PM EDT

Hi! Class of 1988 here. My lawn is being badly torn up by a Skunk. I do not believe there are grubs, but even so, how do I stop and prevent this? Background: I have lived here for eight years, have had True Green service the whole time. Prior to that, the lawn had not been treated for at least two years, if not more. Soil is very sandy, less than a mile from Lake Huron. Lawn has slowly declined since I moved in, even with the yard service. True Green keeps preaching over-seeding with aeration. Even lushest parts of lawn have declined.

St. Clair County Michigan

1 Response

Good afternoon,

You are right about the skunks looking for grubs and I am sending you some information on the timing of treating for grubs that will help your situation, but probably not until next year. If the problem is too serious you could try to live trap the skunks.
Preventive products are the most effective. Products containing imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin or chlorantraniloprole will not control grubs in the spring. They are preventive products that work very well on newly hatched grubs present in July, but do not work well for large grubs found from September to May. There are different recommended timings for application depending on the active ingredient. Although the bag often says apply anytime from May to Aug. 15, it is highly recommended that products containing imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin be applied and irrigated into the soil in June or July. If applied in early spring, the pesticide may move through the soil or partially degrade by the time the grubs hatch in late July. If applied too late, preventative products may not be effective as they work best on small grubs.

Preventive products containing imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or clothianidin will consistently reduce 75-100 percent of the grubs if they are applied in June or July and if they are watered-in with 0.5-1 inch of irrigation immediately after application. Lawn sprinklers can be used if you do not have an irrigation system. Measure how much water you have applied by placing several coffee cups on the lawn and running the sprinklers until they fill a half to 1 inch deep with water.

There is another active ingredient in some insecticides called chlorantraniliprole that will also work in preventing grub problems, but it is less water soluble than the other preventive compounds mentioned above, so it can be applied any time after the grass turns green in the spring. Chlorantraniliprole can be applied as early as April and up to mid-July. This chemical consistently reduced grub numbers by about 65 percent and research has shown that applications made before June are more efficacious than June or July application.

Some of these products come in a granular formulation that is applied with a fertilizer spreader or some products are designed to be mixed with water and sprayed. Also, in the last two years several products have become available in an attach-to-hose bottle and are automatically mixed with water when applied.

Protecting bees and other pollinators. If you are applying a product containing clothianidin, thiamethoxam or imidacloprid, the lawn should be mowed prior to the application so that no weeds are flowering in the lawn when the insecticide is applied. These active ingredients can be toxic to bees if the bees visit flowers that were recently sprayed. Mowing prior to making the application will avoid this problem by removing the flowers. Weeds that flower again after mowing will not have the chemical directly on the flowers and are much safer for the bees. If there is nothing flowering in the lawn, there is nothing in it that would attract bees. In addition, grub control products that contain the active ingredient chlorantraniliprole are safe for bees, even when weed flowers are sprayed. Finally, avoid spray drift or granular spreader drift to flower beds when applying thiamethoxam, imidacloprid, clothianidin or any insecticide for grubs other than chlorantraniliprole.