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Soil and Composting: Grubs in compost bins

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Dogs_N_Petunias
Cleburne, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 17, 2011
6:41 AM

Post #8376738

We have three huge compost bins about 8 feet diameter and 2 1/2 feet deep made from fiberglass rings cut from old underground storage tanks. Have used them for years to make great compost from oak leaves, llama manure, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, etc. This year we have these enormous grubs that we've never had before. Attached photo shows one of the big ones next to the regular size grub, June bugs, I think, like we've had forever. Now there are very few of the small ones but 3 to 5 of the huge ones in every fork full of compost when I'm turning it.

Anyone know what they are and if I should kill them or let them work the compost?

Thanks.

Thumbnail by Dogs_N_Petunias
Click the image for an enlarged view.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 17, 2011
12:31 PM

Post #8377423

Do they curl-up into a letter "C" if you poke them? If so they could be Japanese beetle larvae.

If they don't curl-up they might be Soldier Beetle Larvae - these are good guys.
Dogs_N_Petunias
Cleburne, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 17, 2011
6:09 PM

Post #8378046

Thanks for responding.

Yes, they are curled up real tightly when we uncover them while turning the compost. Reminds me of a shrimp cocktail. LOL.

Are the Japanese beetles good guys too?

G

Dogs_N_Petunias
Cleburne, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 17, 2011
6:17 PM

Post #8378055

Oh, geeze, I just looked up Japanese beetle in the Bug Files and I have definitely seen those green-headed monsters. So I'll answer my own question. Got to get busy screening these things out of our compost and killing them.

Thanks again.
G
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 18, 2011
5:15 AM

Post #8378557

G,

If you have this many grubs in your compost pile, you should turn in some Bacillus thuringensis or Bacillus popillae. This would help to establish a healthy population of these beneficial bacteria in your compost pile and in your soil where you use your compost. You MUST do this before things start to warm up or you run the risk of these larvae turning into adults in early summer!

If you have spotted this many grubs already, you probably have a pretty heavy infestation in your area. Time to pull out some heavy organic artillery. "When in doubt, knock'em out!"

http://insects.about.com/od/insectpests/a/control-japanese-beetles.htm

Good luck & good hunting,

Sonny

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 18, 2011
6:11 AM

Post #8378659

Dogs_N_Petunias - I thought that's what they were! Follow Pewjumper's advise. The Bacillus will rid your own area of Japanese Beetles, but if your neighbors also have them in their ground, you'll still see beetles this summer.

(My little dog loves to eat the grubs! As do Mockingbirds)

Bacillus popillae is recommended mostly for the beetles, it's also known as "Milky Spore" and can be purchased here:

http://www.arbico-organics.com/product/milky-spore-powder

Bacillus Thuringiensis (also known as Thuricide when in liquid form and Dipel when in a dust) is for Caterpillar, Mosquito & Fungus Gnat Larvae Control and can be purchased here:

http://homeharvest.com/bt.htm

I have ordered items from Home Harvest on several occasions, but have not used the other Company.


Edit: I just noticed that Home Harvest also sells Milky Spore

This message was edited Feb 18, 2011 10:14 AM
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 18, 2011
3:30 PM

Post #8379466

G,

I can't say that this is Japanese Beetle larve, but Sunset Garden Book generally identifies these grubs that curl up in a "C" as beetle larvae. Which type, I don't know. They generally feed on roots of young tender plants. You really don't need to spread these around the garden.

If you see the Robins going nuts in your garden come Spring, watch closely, (especially at first light in the morning) if you see white grubs in their mouths and not earth worms then you know that you have a problem. If you want to find out right now, go down to almost any restaraunt and ask them if they have any empty six pound cans that they are throwing away. Itallian restaraunts & pizza joints usually have these size cans.

Cut the bottom and top out of the can so you have an open ended can. push it as far into the soil as you can and start pouring water in the top. Look and see wht comes up to the surface.

A secret use for those bright green metalic beetles for fishermen is to super glue them to a hook while they are alive and put a bobber on the line with a two foot leader. The beetle will actually fly up and down from the surface of the water and drive any fish in the area absolutely nuts! LOL :)

Sonny
Dogs_N_Petunias
Cleburne, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 18, 2011
4:04 PM

Post #8379529

[quote="Pewjumper"]

I can't say that this is Japanese Beetle larve, but Sunset Garden Book generally identifies these grubs that curl up in a "C" as beetle larvae. Which type, I don't know. They generally feed on roots of young tender plants. You really don't need to spread these around the garden.

[/quote]

No, I surely don't need any more pests in my garden. It was a real shock when I first started finding these big grubs. We joked about all those coffee grounds we were putting in the compost making "June bugs on steroids" but I had the sneaking suspicion they weren't just ordinary June bug grubs like we've always had before.

Last summer we had a Mockingbird that would sit on the power line near the compost bin when I was turning the compost with a pitchfork and wait for me to throw grubs on the ground. Then it would swoop down and fly off with the grub and be back in just a little while and wait for another.

Thanks for the info, even though it isn't what I wanted to hear. LOL.

G

Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 18, 2011
6:05 PM

Post #8379801

G,

If you have all this life around you it's a good thing. It usually means you are doing all the right things. We folks can get things out of balance sometimes, but God did give us our first job, "...Tend the garden..."

I hope you have a fantastic harvest!

Sonny
Dogs_N_Petunias
Cleburne, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 19, 2011
10:21 AM

Post #8380667

[quote="HoneybeeNC"]Dogs_N_Petunias - I thought that's what they were! Follow Pewjumper's advise. The Bacillus will rid your own area of Japanese Beetles, but if your neighbors also have them in their ground, you'll still see beetles this summer.

Bacillus popillae is recommended mostly for the beetles, it's also known as "Milky Spore" and can be purchased here:

http://www.arbico-organics.com/product/milky-spore-powder [/quote]

Will the Milky Spore harm butterfly caterpillars or earthworms ?

G

CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

February 19, 2011
10:50 AM

Post #8380707

G, Milky spore only affects Japanese Beetle larvae, rendering the plant roots that they eat lethal to them. It does so by a natural process that is explained below: (I just googled "milky spore and earthworms" and open the first hit I got; I'm sure there are other sources of info on the web as well.
I used milky spore on my garden and lawn four years ago after I noticed a JB infestation on my roses and haven't seen any since. I have LOTS of butterflies!

From:
http://www.gardeniq.com/store/product/Milky-Spore,171,94.aspx

"Milky Spore
Defend your Garden from the Japanese Beetle

Milky Spore is an organic insecticide for natural pest control. The Japanese beetle and its larvae can be a widespread threat to the health of your garden. At all stages of life this Asiatic beetle can attack, feeding off of your plants and damaging the roots and leaves. Eliminate the Japanese beetle with this safe and effective organic insecticide.

Milky Spore can be safely applied without hurting plants or other organisms in your garden. It is naturally selective, harming only Japanese beetle larvae. Milky Spore is one of the best beetle controlling agents available on the market today.

Milky Spore is
Very economical
Safe and easy to use
An all natural, 100% organic pesticide
Contains no harsh chemicals
Works in gardens, yards, lawns, and soil beds
Large sizes available for industrial applications
One treatment can continue working for 5, 10, even 20 years

Milky Spore works by attacking the larvae stage of the Japanese beetle known as grubs. Once treated, the plant roots absorb the spores which these grubs then eat, ingesting a natural occurring bacterium known as Bacillus popilliae. The bacteria are lethal only to Japanese beetle grubs, and cause the grub to die. Its color changes to a milky white during the process, thus the name Milky Spore. These grubs then decay and release billions of bacteria spores back into the soil, restarting the entire process.

Because it uses this larval stage to reproduce, Milky Spore works best when there is a larvae population already present. Since Japanese beetles often “scout” into gardens and lay eggs, you can be unaware of the level of infestation until it has already occurred. If you notice arriving adults, it is important you treat your lawn or garden preventatively with Milky Spore, destroying their lifecycle before it ever has a chance to start.

Application:

For best results, sprinkle Milky Spore insect dust directly onto the plants and root soil around the base of the plant stem. A 10 oz. container covers 2500 square feet and can work up to 20 years with only one application. Milky Spore can be applied spring, summer and fall and doesn't harm earthworms, birds, bees, fish, other animals, or plants. Because larvae are needed to complete the bacterium cycle, don’t use any other Japanese beetle insecticides as they can kill the grubs before the spores have ample time to reproduce."

Soferdig
Kalispell, MT
(Zone 4b)

February 28, 2011
4:48 PM

Post #8398636

To get rid of grubs just borrow a chicken. They go nuts with any in my garden. My chickens scratch through my compost continually and really clean up when I roll it over to the next bin. They just see the fork on my sholder and run like maniacs.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 1, 2011
9:48 PM

Post #8401644

Sofer, I would love to see that!
Dogs_N_Petunias
Cleburne, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 2, 2011
4:13 AM

Post #8401798

[quote="Soferdig"]To get rid of grubs just borrow a chicken. They go nuts with any in my garden. My chickens scratch through my compost continually and really clean up when I roll it over to the next bin. They just see the fork on my sholder and run like maniacs.[/quote]

The problem I have with free-range chickens is they are not very discriminate about where and what they scratch up and I don't want them around my flower beds for that reason. Also, they don't survive on our place very long due to hawks. About 25 years ago, we had a huge Araucana rooster that we hatched in our own incubator. He was really something, sort of a pet and survived longer than the hens did. But then we came home one day and all we found in the pasture was one foot and some feathers. Never had the heart to have chickens again.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 2, 2011
9:22 AM

Post #8402224

Have any of you every used this product, Grub Away Nematodes?

I discovered those huge grubs this week in several of my old planters. I must've cut 40 of 'em in half!

http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=811
Soferdig
Kalispell, MT
(Zone 4b)

March 2, 2011
9:44 AM

Post #8402267

That is interesting because we too have Red-tailed Hawks, Eagles, and Vultures. Besides neighbor dogs before fence we have never lost a chicken ( big hens:Aracana/Barred Rocks). We do though have 2 terrier type dogs that keep all birds on the run and a large estuary below to keep their bellies full. Our 3 acres is fenced in to prevent the wild ones from getting in though. I also had the chicken scratch problem with bark being moved everywhere in piles. We went to the fine stuff and they just have to dig a bit down and vamow, lots of bugs so they dont dig deep and move the bark to piles. I love the way they peck at a leaf and look for anything that moves, no aphids, grubs, beetles etc at their level!

Thumbnail by Soferdig
Click the image for an enlarged view.

gen2026
Camden, AR

April 3, 2011
4:20 PM

Post #8469607

I have seen these type of grubs while digging in my flower beds... I assume that is a bad thing! How do I know if they are the good or bad beetles???

thanks
genna

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