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Use New Neem Product for Grub Control


Since our post last week about mole and vole control, we’ve had numerous questions about the water soluble neem product known as Azasol.

Neem is derived from the seeds of an evergreen tree, Azadirachta indica, native to India. Neem oil has been available in this country for about 20 years, but the patented water-soluble innovation is relatively new.

Since the white powder is water soluble, it’s far easier to apply than the oil. A hose-end sprayer works well for lawns or trees and shrubs.

The product is labeled for hundreds of insects including the larval phase of beetles known most commonly as grubs. We spoke with the scientific advisors of Azasol yesterday and their best advice was to apply the product now in the temperate regions of the country where grass is actively growing. That will cause the product to be readily absorbed by the stems, leaves and roots of the grass plants so that if or when the grubs eat the grass, they’ll eventually die.

If you know you have a significant grub problem in your lawn, a second application of the product — at rates described on the label — is recommended about three weeks later.

It’s important to note that neem is not a “contact” killer. And unlike imidacloprid or clothianidin, the active ingredients in most synthetic chemical grub-control products, neem causes the grubs to stop feeding and breeding. In other words, if you spray the Azasol directly onto the grub, the insect isn’t going to fall over and die immediately — but that doesn’t mean the product isn’t working.

Additional scientific trials are underway this season so that we and the world at large can gain more personal information about Azasol and they way it works on various turf insects. In the meantime, any lawn companies or homeowners who would like to try the product can contact Azasol directly at

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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  • minerva terris

    It is my understanding that the neonicitinamide insecticides, imidacloprid and clothianidin are also systemic, not “contact” and kill the insects that ingest the plant parts that have absorbed the chemical. I worry that even though neem is “organic,” its systemic mode of action might have unintended effects on benign insects that feed on pollen and nectar such as bees. Any studies here?

  • Paul Tukey

    Neem has been approved for organic gardening and is on most lists of “safe” products. It’s been used for 5,000 years as a bio-insecticide in India and is considered safe for bees as well. I’ll ask the Azasol folks for whatever studies they may have had commissioned.


  • Connor

    Neem disrupts the lifecycle of the grub/beetle; that’s its primary mode of action. It also acts somewhat as a repellent.

  • Robert Sanderson

    Here’s a great web site about neem: It should not be taken internally by women who are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. Some cultures use neem as a birth control product. Topically, however, neem is used in toothpastes and shampoos.
    R. Sanderson

  • Seamus

    Do you know if the product is available in Canada. I have read a great deal about it but wondered if it is approved for use up here in Canada.

    • Paul Tukey

      This particular formulation has not yet been approved for use in Canada, but I know the American licensees are considering it.

  • David Shetlar (the BugDoc)

    Could you please provide some replicated trial results where this product was tested by a recognized, unbiased researcher? I have tried azadirachtin products several times for grub control (back in the late 90s and early 2000s) and got no activity! I also know of several other turfgrass entomologists with similar results. We are hoping that a new BT strain will provide control of grubs that we are looking for, but the commercial product is still a year or two away. Azadiracthin products have provided very good control of sod webworms, chinch bugs (two applications at 7-10 days are needed) and moderate control of billbugs (applied when small larvae are just starting to feed) in our replicated field studies. These are definitely good reasons to use azadirachtin-containing products. I notice that this product does state the concentration of azadirachtins which is essential for having success. Crude neem seed extracts may or may not have sufficient active ingredients to work!!

    • Paul Tukey

      I will dig up the research and post it here when time allows. Research needed to be submitted by the manufacturer for the product to be labeled for grubs.

  • Wendy

    I don’t know why (climate change? fewer natural predators e.g. birds, moles?) but the occurance and the damage from lawn grubs seems to be more pervasive than ever. After years of no problems from grubs, we have been battling these larvae for the past several years. I have been applying nematodes with limited success. My question is, can the NEEM be applied and then followed-up with a nematode application? Or will the toxicity of this product kill the nematodes as well. What do you recommend for our NH climate for spring through fall control?

    • Mark

      Hi Wendy,

      Please view the following link:

      In here you will learn that Azadirachtin has Nematicidal activity therefore application with beneficial nematodes is contra-indicated. Azadirachtin is non-persistent in soil. It is non-persistent, with aerobic soil half-life of 5-d. Therefore application of nematodes should not be applied for at least 15-days.


  • Molly

    Would it work to just water in diluted solution of neem oil into the grub infested areas? If so, what dilution?

    • Paul Tukey

      No, neem oil is not generally effective against grubs because it breaks down too quickly once exposed to light.

  • Jerry


    I’m on my 4th year using organic fertilizers. Over the last couple of years and last year especially the grubs have had a feast on parts of my lawn. In expanding my garden I have uncovered tons of grubs so I know the problem will be bad again this year. I think the robins have been helping out because the are pecking away at my lawn all day long. Its probably for the abumdance of worms now present in my soil rather than the grubs though.
    A garden center near me sells milk spores for controlling grubs. I think I have read here before about using this product and I think it was positive. They did tell me that it doesn’t control grubs immediately, rather it takes about two years and 6 applications (once each spring, summer and fall) before it becomes most effective and that I would no longer need to apply anything for grubs again.
    Is this a good long term solution for grub control? And can I use Azasol in the meantime to control the grubs now while using the milk spores for the long term?

    • Paul Tukey

      Azasol could be used now while you’re waiting for the milky spore to kick in. You can also use beneficial nematodes. Using both in conjunction is worth trying if the problem is too bad.

  • ben

    I am a biased researcher for a commercial company and I was hoping to use neem oil and/or azadirachtin to create a grub control product (neem oil is quite affordable, you see)… but after much testing with neem oil on Japanese beelte grubs, June beetle grubs, and Masked Chafer beetle grubs, my conclusion is that azadirachtin is simply a sham.

    READ THE INGREDIENT LABEL! Most neem oil products contain actual insecticides and fungicides… neem is just an “organic” sales pitch. There are excellent organic pesticides, but neem oil is seriously giving a bad name to the entire organic industry! Hence my consciensious post… please hear me.

    Beneficial nematodes really rock for controlling grubs, but you have to special order them from a cottage industry!!! Or if you have a japanese beetle grub problem, milkyspore will save you money in the long run… but there are other kinds of grubs, so be sure to identify your problem. Also, fertilizer helps.

    By the way, grubs don’t breed… and neem oil is about as effective as any other common vegetable oil… which are effective against regular insects if you can spray them directly, but not if they are underground! You would have to use way, way more than necessary to kill any vegetation… think exxon oil slick. It has benefit from a manufacturing-material stand point, but as for the consumer, mineral oil works better… although it is technically a petrol product- if you had to replace it, neem oil is ok, but the oil is such a minor part of the product, don’t think for an istant that it makes any practical difference… like a tablespoon on a field.

  • Paul Tukey

    Here is a link to a book about Neem sold by Acres USA: It’s titled Neem — India’s Miraculous Healing Plant and written by Ellen Norten.

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