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How do I get rid of nightcrawlers? My lawn is getting real lumpy.

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Night crawlers are beneficial as they provide natural aeration of the soils and should be tolerated whenever possible. Their feeding and excrement helps recycle nutrients and fertilize the soil. Night crawlers also feed on thatch, a layer of live and dead plant material that can accumulate at the soil surface and reduce the penetration of water and fertilizer. However, large populations can cause lumpiness and, in extreme cases, reduce the value of the turf for recreation. Vertical mowing can help reduce the lumpiness and also the amount of food available for night crawler development. Vertical mowing is best done in late summer, mid-August through September. Do not do vertical mowing in hot weather as it causes stress to the lawn. If you must power rake (vertical mow) in summer, water thoroughly and frequently until the lawn has fully recovered from having slices cut into it. Power rakes may be rented from garden centers and rental companies. Do not use rollers to flatten night crawler mounds. This compacts the soil which adversely affects the turf.

If you suspect it might be white grubs, billbugs or some other type of insect – then I would recommend other management options. But if you are certain they are night crawlers – I would try to tolerate them as much as possible. I hope this answered your question. Please let me know if you have other questions about insects.

Posted on 30 Apr 2008

Erin Hodgson
Extension Entomologist

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