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European Chafer Beetle: Lawn Repair

The best defence against Chafer Beetles is a well-maintained lawn. Depending on how much damage has been done, re-sodding may be necessary. However, often over-seeding, and maintaining the lawn can prevent the problem from escalating. Highland Turf Farm sells Over-seeding Kits and Garden Soil. If it is an infestation, you may need to combat the Chafer Beetle with Nematodes, first. (More information about Nematodes, is further down this page).

What is the European Chafer Beetle?

The Crows aren’t the Problem

It may look like crows are maliciously destroying your lawn. The fact is, they are not the problem. Crows, and raccoons are natural predators for the European Chafer Beetle. One crow can eat a lot of chaffer beetles, as can a raccoon or skunk. Starlings don’t make as much mess. They will poke a million neat holes with their tweezer bills and plucked out the grubs – barely disturbing the lawn. But, no matter whether or not the crows are feasting on Chafer Beetles, the mess they make of your lawn makes them unwelcome.

Generally, well-maintained lawns – ones that are routinely aerated, fertilized, de-thatched and watered – are less vulnerable to chafer infestations than neglected lawns. However, if European Chafer Beetles have infested your lawn, the best answer is Nematodes. Nematodes are a small parasitic roundworm that kills off the European Chafer Beetle in a matter of 24 hours.

Packs of nematodes sell for $69.99. One pack has enough organisms in it to cover 750 square feet.

The European Chafer Beetles Invasion

The European Chafer Beetle reproduces rapidly and loves to feed on roots of all kinds of plants, and grass is a favourite as turf has thousands of roots. The European Chafer Beetle has become a serious pest problem in Vancouver and Area. Sometimes the first symptom is your lawn may feel spongy, because of all the grubs tunnelling below the turf. Due to the extensive damage done to the grass, it becomes easy to pull back the lawn, revealing the feeding larvae. Birds and animals quickly learn that it is quite easy to peel back sections of lawn to feast on European Chafer Beetle larvae.

A lawn infested by European Chafer Beetles may seem wilted. The damage is most noticeable between fall and early spring when the grubs are full grown. Grubs feed all winter long and pupate in May.

If your lawn is infested, it quickly becomes apparent when birds, skunks and raccoons come to feast…causing extensive damage.

Monitor your lawn for infestations

Take the following steps to monitor your lawn for infestations:

• Cut the sides of a 30 by 30 cm square of sod to a depth of 5 cm in five sections per lawn.
• Fold each square back and dig through the soil between the grass.
• Count the number of grubs. If you find more than 5-10 grubs per section, you may have an infestation to treat.

Prevention

In addition to monitoring your lawn, preventing an infestation can be done by maintaining a healthy lawn. If you have some evidence of European Chafer Beetles, Over-seeding, to improve the health of your lawn can be a good plan. Highland Turf Farm sells Over-seeding Kit and Garden Soil.

Keep your turf healthy. Also, adopt a vigorous maintenance routine involving aerating, de-thatching, fertilizing, deep watering, and mowing. Keeping your grass mowed frequently, but not too short, is key.

Treat Chafer Beetle infestations Naturally

All municipalities in the Lower Mainland have outlawed the use of insecticides or pesticides. However, you can get rid of them naturally using Nematodes, and Nematodes die off if there are no Chafer Beetle grubs left.

The timing of treatment is crucial to success. It needs to be at the right life-stage of the European Chafer Beetle to work effectively.

During the third week of July, complete these steps to treat the infestation:

• Buy nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) from your local lawn and garden store.
• In the evening or on a cloudy day, moisten your lawn well (spongy – but not soaked)
• Apply nematodes on your lawn according to package directions. Most packages cover about 750 sq. ft. of lawn.
• Keep the soil moist for four to seven days after applying the nematodes to ensure best results.


As most municipalities have watering restrictions, it may be necessary to purchase a water exemption permit to allow you to water your lawn more frequently in the first week after applying the nematodes. Even with exemption permits, watering lawns is limited to 4 AM to 9 AM.