Hi, my name is: White Curl Grub (cockchafer in the southern states)

Describe yourself: Well, I’m white and, as my name suggests, kinda curly (more C shaped to be precise) with three pairs of legs during my destructive juvenile stage. I’ll admit it, I’m a little bit fat, I grow to about 25 – 30mm in length, and am often confused with the Aussie ‘witchetty grub’. As an adult, I’m way less damaging to your plants and lawn, and am a pretty attractive scarab type beetle, often known as an African Black Beetle.

Hobbies: Making a serious mess of your lawn and generally causing your precious yard to look dreadful! As an adult beetle, I mate and lay my eggs throughout the spring. I hatch as a grub, eat through summer, pupate in autumn and rest over winter.

Likes: I can’t resist the roots of grass, especially when I am an older larva (a teenager to be precise). As a youngster, I’ll feed on decaying organic matter, and hang out in the soil as an adult beetle. I especially love long periods of dry weather – it just makes me want to munch grass roots. I also don’t mind the roots of other plants such as corn, tomatoes, grapevines and petunias.

Dislikes: Birds, bandicoots (they love to feast on me), parasitic wasps, tea tree oil and molasses. I’m not a huge fan of well irrigated lawn areas either… I just can’t pupate in the wet. There is a particular type of nematode that upsets me as well.

You’ll know you’ve met me when: Your lawn has loads of dying and brown areas that look a bit like dry sections. The grass can be easily pulled out of the ground or rolled back like a carpet.

If you want to dump me, you could try to:

  • You lay a bit of wet carpet or a hessian bag on affected areas of the lawn overnight. My adult relatives are not real bright and will cluster on this stuff, meaning they can be collected and disposed of in the morning.
  • You whack a bit of biodegradable detergent and water into a bucket, and pour this on the affected spots. This forces me up to the surface, where birds will gobble me up.
  • Fork over the lawn, as this often exposes me to the big, wide world, where hungry birds and bandicoots are just waiting to gobble me up.
  • Keep the lawn well irrigated, especially over spring and summer. (restrictions permitting) as mum doesn’t like to lay eggs in wet spots.
  • Try a tea tree or molasses mixture on the lawn, this can upset me a fair bit.