Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Expert tips to save your lawn from the chafer beetle

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY SOREN ELSAY

If there is one thing that homeowners love as much as their home, it’s their lawn. It’s often the most noticeable part of someone’s landscape and often functions as a convenient spot for mini soccer matches or picnics.

Lawns are also under attack in Vancouver. Thanks to the notorious chafer beetle, people across the Lower Mmainland are seeing their beloved grass shredded, seemingly overnight. While it may seem inevitable, there are a few tactics that you can take to reduce the chances that your lawn faces the same fate that so many others have fallen to.

The chafer beetle is not in fact the animal responsible for tearing up your lawn; rather, the chafer beetle is the catalyst for the destruction of people’s green pride and joy.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

The beetle lays its larva roughly two to four inches under the grass, unnoticeable to the naked eye. What is noticeable is when the local wildlife comes searching for the delicious little white grubs, and your lawn is the only thing standing in their way. Mostly through crows, which shred lawns small chunk by small chunk, and racoons, which peel back the grass in large patches, this wildlife is virtually unstoppable once they decide that your lawn in the source of their next meal.

If you are looking for a way to ensure your lawn stays flawless then artificial turf is the only sure bet in this day and age. For those who want to keep the natural look but don’t want to go down without a fight, there are a couple of things that can be done to mitigate the chance of the chafer beetle battle playing out in your yard.

Keep your lawn healthy

The best protective measures are the preemptive ones, which is to say, give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem.

This means maintaining a healthy lawn and keeping your grass slightly longer than you normally would. Healthy, thick, longish grass is the best defence against the beetle getting into the soil, as the healthier and longer the grass, the heartier the root system and the harder it is for the beetle to penetrate the outer layer.

Proper aeration and topsoil applied early in the season, as well as continued watering and fertilization are factors that can lead to a thick, healthy lawn. While many people love the golf-green-style short grass, I would recommend keeping your grass at least three inches long. It may not offer the crisp look of super-short grass, but it beats witnessing the slow destruction of your lawn.

Superbugs to the rescue

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

If your lawn does fall victim to the local wildlife, not all hope is lost. Nematodes are microscopic living organisms that feed on other living organisms (like the chafer beetle larva) and are easily applied. Available at most large lawn and garden care centres, nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of pests.

Applied by mixing into water that gets sprayed evenly across the lawn, nematodes are biological warfare at its most basic level. It is important to note that once applied, nematodes require constant watering, often more than summer water restrictions allow. A City of Vancouver permit will allow you to get an exemption from these bylaws.

Soren Elsay has worked as a professional landscaper. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Battling the European chafer beetle

A chafer beetle in the back yard

A chafer beetle in the backyard. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY JULIE CHENG

Those pesky chafer beetles star started showing up earlier this year—from late May right til the end of June.

They first showed up coming from underground and creeping up strands of grass on the lawn, where I’d stomp on them, wincing at every loud crunch. Mid June found me outside with a broom whacking my tall rhododendron where they swarmed at dusk, hoping, I reasoned, to ruin their sex lives so they wouldn’t mate and lay eggs on my lawn. I later used the more dignified tactic of spraying them with the hose.

Late June I found some dead ones in my backyard. I imagined them burrowing down into the grass, laying their 300 eggs or so, then dying, their life spent but fulfilled.

Signs of chafer beetle

Chafer grubs

Chafer grubs can be found in lawns from fall to spring.

Adult European chafer beetles are copper-coloured beetles. Females lay eggs, which hatch in about two weeks and grow into grubs. These soft, white grubs chomp on the grass roots, destroying lawns.

My lawn will start showing damage from fall to early spring. During this time, the resident skunk and the crows make a buffet of them. I don’t mind these critters digging up the lawn, I think they’re doing me a favour by eating as many of the grubs as they can.

Otherwise, I’d be digging them up myself. I have been known to smash a few with my shovel out of frustration, but mostly I dig up 10-20 a day and feed them to my neighbour’s chickens. You have to love those yummy, protein-rich chafer eggs the chickens produce.

Fighting chafers naturally

It’s important to keep your lawn healthy. This means regular aerating, watering and mowing, as well as applying lime. Try overseeding your lawn with tall fescue grass, which the beetles don’t like to lay their eggs in and the grubs have a hard time feeding on. Microclover is also a good choice.

In the city of Vancouver, you’re not allowed to use pesticides to treat chafers, but you may use nematodes, which are microscopic worms that attack the grubs. You can buy nemadoes at a garden store.

Make sure you apply the nematodes early mornings or evenings or on a cloudy day and keep the soil moist for four to seven days afterwards. You may purchase a water exemption permit from the city to sprinkle your lawn extra days (http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/water-exemption-permits.aspx).

For more information:

City of Vancouver http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/chafer-beetles.aspx

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News