How to Get Rid of European Chafer Beetles in Vancouver

The European Chafer Beetles have invaded Vancouver.

Frustrated residents of Vancouver have become accustomed to the tell-tale signs of the European Chafer Beetle – dry and withered grass, brown patches defiling a once beautiful green lawn, unwelcome animals digging and ripping up the yard, and of course, the beetle larvae themselves present underneath the shriveled remains. Unfortunately, this infestation will only continue through 2017 and beyond despite attempts at European Chafer Beetle control and especially since it is an invasive species with no natural predators in the Vancouver area. The natural question Vancouver-Area residents are asking is, “how do I get rid of chafer beetles in my lawn?”

What is the European Chafer Beetle and how did it get to Vancouver?

The European Chafer Beetle (also called a chafer grub) is a beetle species that originated in continental Europe and, as reported by the City of North Vancouver, was first discovered to have invaded the Lower Mainland region of New Westminster in 2001. The beetle’s presence quickly spread and the City of Vancouver has now proclaimed it as “a serious pest,” leaving residents and city officials alike looking for answers on how to get rid of Chafer Beetles.

According to Wikipedia, European Chafer Beetle larvae are “white-coloured and C-shaped, with a yellow-brown head and six jointed legs,” while the adults “are medium-sized, light reddish-brown, and approximately 13–14 millimetres (0.51–0.55 in) long.” Their life cycle lasts for one year with new grubs hatching by late July with the heaviest feeding activities occurring in the fall and spring with some continuing to feed throughout the winter, especially in frost-free zones. The large, white grubs prefer to “feed on the roots of most cool-latitude grasses, both wild and cultivated.”

How does the European Chafer Beetle damage grass?

Since the European Chafer Beetle grubs eat the roots of grasses, having an infestation can result in a completely destroyed lawn with the dirt underneath the grass churned and writhing with grubs, and the outer grasses brown and dying from lack of root life. If the grubs themselves haven’t ruined your lawn, then, as the Squeamish Gardners report, it is likely that you will have crows, raccoons, skunks and potentially other critters digging and tearing apart your lawns “leaving them looking as if they’ve been over-enthusiastically power-raked or rototilled.” While the Squeamish Gardners admit that these grub-eaters are, in a way, assisting with European Chafer Beetle control by eating them before they reach maturity, that doesn’t change the fact that your lawn has been decimated in the process.

If you think you may have European Chafer Beetles or chafer grubs inhabiting your lawn, you can use the following method, provided by the City of Coquitlam, to confirm:

– Cut three sides of a 30cm x 30cm square (about the length of a ruler) of grass to a depth of 5cm (about 2in)

– Fold back the square patch and count the grubs in the soil by digging around.

– Cut five more squares of sod/turf in different areas of your lawn, count the grubs in each square.

– If more than 5 grubs per square are found, then chafer control may be necessary.

How to get rid of Chafer Beetle:

While it is likely that the infestation is here to stay, there are some options that can be used in attempts at European Chafer Beetle control in and around Vancouver. As we’ll explain, those options include the use of pesticides, the introduction of microscopic organisms called nematodes, and replacing your grass with synthetic grass. We’ll show the severe downsides to using pesticides and nematodes and why fake grass is a great option for your lawn for getting rid of Chafer Beetles and more!

Elimination Option 1: Pesticides

Two pesticides, Merit and Sevin, are typically used in the quest to get rid of Chafer Beetles. The Squeamish Gardners note that Merit is a “systemic insecticide,” Sevin is “a chemical that attacks the grub’s nervous system,” and each of these needs to be applied at a different time to be effective.

Unfortunately, while these pesticides have proven somewhat effective, they also have severe environmental negatives associated with them and may be banned in your area. CBC News reports that the pesticide Merit is “one of the controversial neonicotinoid pesticides that face increasing restrictions worldwide because of the risk they pose to bees.” CBC News goes on to say that not only are the pesticides harmful to bees, but also to other beneficial insects and that the pesticides not only affect the ground that is treated, but also seep into the soil, the surrounding plants, and even the ground and surface water.

Per CBC News, Merit is banned by many cities including Vancouver, Surrey, or Burnaby. The ban on the use of Merit is also noted by the City of North Vancouver which references “the City’s Cosmetic Pesticide Control Use Bylaw, No. 8041” and by the City of Vancouver which indicates that they do “not allow pesticides or chemicals such as Merit or Arena to treat chafer beetles, as per Health Bylaw No. 9535.”

Elimination Option 2: Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic organisms that attack Chafer Beetles. They are safer for the environment but unfortunately less effective than pesticides and extremely difficult to apply successfully – application must be completed within a single week during the year, requires careful and complex handling of microorganisms, and may require additional watering and a permit exemption to do so.

The City of Vancouver recommends the following steps for applying nematodes:

During the third week of July, complete these steps to treat the infestation:Buy nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) from your local lawn and garden store. Make sure to keep them regrigerated [sic] until the application day – these are living organisms.

1. Moisten your lawn well (to the consistency of a wrung-out sponge).

2. Apply nematodes on your lawn at a rate of approximately 50 million nematodes per 139 square metres (1500 square feet). This should cover a 33 x 45 foot lawn. Water the lawn again after the application to push the nematodes into the soil.

3. Keep the soil moist for two to three weeks after applying the nematodes to ensure best results. This can be done within your lawn watering restrictions.

4. You may wish to purchase a water exemption permit to allow for additional sprinkling days. Please note the exemption permit allows for sprinkling between the hours of 4:00am – 9:00am only.

Source: City of Vancouver

The Squeamish Gardners note that there are very narrow parameters which must be adhered to for the nematodes to be effective, including the timing of application, the condition of the soil, and weather conditions at the time of application. An unsuccessful application of nematodes one year means you will likely be doing the entire process again the next year, with repeating costs of nematode and water exemption purchases. CBC News reports that it is those lawn owners with persistent infestations that end up turning towards dangerous and banned pesticides as a last resort.

Elimination Option 3: Install Artificial Grass

The best option for Chafer Beetle Control Vancouver is the installation of artificial grass. Artificial grass is the only option that eliminates the European Chafer Beetle’s source of nutrition – no grass root, no chafer beetle. No chafer beetles means no need to fight with nematodes and their finicky application process, no need to deal with city ordinances on pesticide usage, and no worries about damaging the environment. In addition to solving your Chafer Beetle problems, synthetic grass provides a host of other benefits for your lawn or condo building.

Contact us today if you’re ready for truly effective Chafer Beetle control in the Vancouver area and ready to make the switch to a maintenance-free, environmentally friendly, and year-round beautiful lawn.

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