In the summer of 2010, if you were to drive down Oak Street en route to YVR or Richmond, chances are you would have seen boulevard lawns that look like roto-rooter teams went drilling for treasure.
Home-owner Ingrid Schneller woke up one spring morning to find her back lawn looking as if vandals had been at work. Children passing by the alley asked why her lawn resembled a graveyard. When she called the VPD to take a look, one officer recognized the culprit: the European chafer beetle. Since its first appearance in New Westminster in 2001, these pests have been spreading throughout the Lower Mainland.
Between January and March, these grubs feed on the roots of grass deep below the surface. You can’t tell by looking at your lawn whether you have chafers. Digging up sections of your lawn in one square ft sections and peeling back the turf, will allow you to spot them.
A tell-tale sign is that predators from four-legged creatures to crows tear up the lawns to feast on them. If your lawn reaches this point, we suggest you rake up and get rid of grass that has been ripped apart. Next, aggressively rake over areas of exposed soil and add any new soil to fill depressions. Seed the areas with a hi-quality seed.
The most badly affected lawns have been poorly maintained and contain grass that has short root systems or is full of moss.
Keep up a regimen of weekly mowing but don’t cut your grass shorter than 5 cm and definitely 2.25 cm above any moss.
Some home owners protect their lawns by laying chicken wire or tarp as a stop-gap measure. But this only prevents animals and birds from ruining lawns. It doesn’t stop the underlying problem.
Maintaining health turf is your first defense. Aerating, over seeding cutting properly, watering and fertilizing will develop a strong turf with a deep root system that is less susceptible to birds and other critters. But the key to chafer fever is to eliminate the larvae when they are vulnerable.
By late early summer, adult beetles emerge at dusk. This is their mating and egg-laying season. By July, eggs are laid and baby grubs begin feeding on lawns. If you don’t apply a solution like nematodes, towards the end of July and the beginning of August your lawn will be the perfect home for that new colony. From late fall to winter, there isn’t much action you can take
The late July period is when nematode worms should be let loose at 750,000 per square meter. These microscopic organisms are available in packages from garden supply centers and can be applied by watering them into the soil in the late July to early August period. We recommend you read the package as to the lawn area they will cover as at least two packages to treat an area of 1400 square feet. Make sure that the lawn is moistened first, and apply the nematodes in the evening.
Vancouver’s pesticide ban that has been in place since 2006 make it challenging to stem the infestation by applying chemicals although two pesticides – Merit and Sevin – are effective.
BUR-HAN lawn care is experienced in chafer beetle control and was an early adopter. Start saving your lawn today by calling us to start a lawn care package. It is important to book your nematode application early, as they are only grown in limited quantities for the season. Book now and save your lawn.
To learn more about how much nematodes cost and to book an appointment, visit our Nematode Application page. For more tips visit our nematodes and solving the European Chafer Beetle problem page.