What animals eat grubs in the lawn?

Many different animals eat grubs that live in lawns, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Grubs are the larval form of beetles and can cause significant damage to lawns if their populations get out of control. Identifying what animals help control grub populations naturally is useful information for gardeners and homeowners seeking to reduce reliance on pesticides.

Quick answers

Some quick answers to common questions about what animals eat grubs include:

  • Birds like robins, starlings, crows, and grackles eat grubs they find when searching lawns.
  • Mammals like moles, skunks, raccoons, opossums, shrews, and chipmunks dig grubs up and eat them.
  • Lizards and turtles prey on grubs they come across while moving through the grass.
  • Frogs, toads, and salamanders happily consume grubs.
  • Ants, centipedes, and ground beetles kill and eat grubs.
  • Wasps like yellowjackets prey on grubs to feed their larvae.
  • Some flies and nematodes parasitize grubs.

Birds that eat grubs

Many common birds actively hunt for grubs and other insect larvae in lawns and gardens. Their strong claws allow them to scratch and dig through grass easily in search of a high-protein meal.


The American robin is a very common grub predator. They use their vision to find any grubs close to the surface, then use their beak to pull them up and consume them. Large numbers of robins can be seen flocking to lawns and gardens during times of heavy grub infestation.

European starlings

An invasive species in North America, European starlings often form large foraging flocks and can decimate grub populations in an area. Like robins, they use their sharp eyesight and strong beaks to pull grubs up to the surface.


Crows are highly intelligent birds that will take advantage of any easy protein source like grubs. American crows and fish crows will scratch apart the grass hunting for grubs and make a loud cawing ruckus to attract other birds to the hunting ground.


With their iridescent black plumage, grackles are a common sight on suburban lawns digging for grubs. Species like the common grackle have adapted well to human developments and thrive on the insects and larvae found in gardens.

Other birds

Other bird species that will eat grubs when they find them include blue jays, meadowlarks, thrushes, waxwings, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and quail. Even chickens and turkeys will feast on grubs when allowed to roam on lawns and pastureland.

Mammals that prey on grubs

A number of mammalian predators have adapted to take advantage of the high density of grubs that can be found in lawns and gardens.


Moles are highly specialized for a grub diet. They constantly dig through soil and shallow tunnels using their broad front feet in search of larval insects. Each mole can consume up to 100 percent of its body weight in grubs per day.


Striped skunks use their long claws and snout to dig just under the thatch layer of lawns where grubs hide. They will return night after night to forage in a grub-infested area.


Raccoons use their dexterous front paws to locate and dig up grubs. They can cause significant damage to lawns in their search. Groups of raccoons will sometimes tip each other off to reliable grub hunting spots.


North America’s only marsupial has 50 sharp teeth ideal for grabbing and chewing up grubs. Opossums hunt mostly at night and consume up to 5,000 insects and larvae per season.


Insectivorous shrew species like the short-tailed shrew heavily supplement their diet with grubs when available. They use their elongated snout and venomous saliva to disable grubs.


Chipmunks dig small networks of tunnels just under the surface of the lawn to hunt for seed, roots, and grubs. They will stuff their cheek pouches full of grubs to carry back to their burrows.

Other mammals

Voles, shrews, armadillos, bears, badgers, and hedgehogs are examples of other mammals that will eat grubs when they find them.

Reptiles and amphibians

Many lizard, turtle, snake, frog, and toad species will eat grubs as part of their varied diet.


Small lizards like skinks and anoles hunt for insects and larvae as they scurry through gardens. Larger lizards like monitor lizards actively dig grubs up with their claws.


Box turtles, tortoises, and pond-dwelling species like sliders will eat grubs they come across while traversing lawn areas. Their jaws allow them to bite grubs in half or crunch down completely.

Frogs and toads

Toads and frogs waiting in garden areas at night or during rainy weather will stick out their tongues to capture grubs moving on the surface. Species like the American toad can eat up to 1,000 insects per day.


Salamanders hide in dark, damp places in lawns during the day, coming out at night to hunt insects like grubs. Their sharp teeth and jaws let them bite grubs into pieces.

Insects and other invertebrates

A surprising variety of insects and other invertebrates prey on grubs living in lawns.


Ant species like field ants hunt for grubs to feed both adult ants and ant larvae back in the nest. Army ants swarm over lawns in groups, killing and carrying back any grubs they encounter.


Venomous centipede species are well equipped to kill grubs with their sharply pointed legs. House centipedes hunt grubs at night. Larger species like giant desert centipedes also feed on grubs.

Ground beetles

Predatory ground beetles that live in lawns actively seek out grubs and other insect larvae to kill and eat. Fast-moving species like tiger beetles can spot and catch grubs.


Species like cicada killers and yellowjackets stab grubs with their stingers to paralyze them, then carry them back to feed developing wasp larvae in their nests. Adult wasps also eat grubs.


Some flies like robber flies inject grubs with immobilizing venom before sucking out their insides. Others like giant rove beetles lay their eggs on grubs so the larvae can eat the grubs alive.


Microscopic nematodes seek out and enter the bodies of grubs in the soil, poisoning them with symbiotic bacteria. They are used as an organic grub control method.

Other invertebrates

Earwigs, stinkbugs, hornets, crickets, and spiders also kill and eat grubs when given the opportunity.

Why grubs are a common food source

Grubs form a large part of many animals’ diets for several key reasons:

  • Grubs are small and soft-bodied, making for easy catching and chewing.
  • Lawns and gardens provide a concentrated hunting ground.
  • Grubs can’t run away or avoid predators easily.
  • High fat and protein content makes grubs nutritionally desirable.

Controlling grubs naturally using the existing ecosystem of predators is an ideal approach for homeowners looking to avoid excessive pesticide use.

Encouraging natural grub predators

There are several tactics homeowners can use to make their lawn more hospitable to grub predators:

  • Avoid use of toxic chemicals that could harm animals.
  • Provide habitat like brush piles, shrubs, and water sources.
  • Build a bat house to attract insect-eating bats.
  • Set up a bird feeder to draw in seed and insect eating birds.
  • Install frog/toad houses and shelters for reptiles and mammals.
  • Let leaf litter accumulate in garden areas to create insect and grub habitat.

A healthy ecosystem with a diversity of grub predators and prey species is the most sustainable way to deal with potential grub problems.


Grubs are an extremely common food source taken advantage of by a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Everything from tiny shrews to skunks and opossums will feed eagerly on the fat grubs they find while foraging in lawns. By avoiding pesticide overuse and encouraging a diverse habitat, homeowners can rely on natural ecosystem services to control grub populations.

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