The Tri-Cities Take Action on Chafer Beetle Infestations

Chafer Beetle Coquitlam Port Coquitlam Port Moody

The European Chafer beetle is here to stay, but Tri-City residents can minimize the damage and once again be proud of their lawns by changing how they care for their grass – starting now.

Birds and animals are tearing up more and more lawns digging for beetle larvae, prompting the cities of Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody to come together this spring with a joint communications campaign to help residents reclaim their yards.

The new resources provide residents with effective prevention and control options, including a year-round schedule of activities based on the beetle’s lifecycle. All three cities ban the use of cosmetic pesticides and are promoting natural lawn-care techniques, posted on their respective websites:

Checking for Infestations

Beetle larvae (or grubs) – which feed on grass roots and are a tasty meal for birds, raccoons and skunks – are typically active from July to March. They are smaller than a dime, with brown heads and white, C-shaped bodies. January to March is the ideal time to check for active grubs, as by April and May, they have moved into the resting (pupa) and adult stages. However, residents can still check now for infestations by looking for fresh lawn damage (torn-up grass and overturned clumps of sod) that occurred in recent months.

Prevention and Control

The best defense against the Chafer beetle is healthy turf, achieved through routine aerating, dethatching, fertilizing, deep watering and high mowing.

Nematodes, a microscopic worm that feeds on beetle larvae, can be an effective treatment for infested lawns, provided they are properly refrigerated and correctly applied, and lawns are kept moist before treatment and for about two weeks afterwards (see the applicable city website for watering restriction exemptions). Heterorhabditis bacterlophora is the recommended type of nematode species.

From April to June, residents are advised to:

  • Aerate lawns.
  • Rake over damaged turf. It is not necessary to remove damaged turf, but residents may rototill the soil if they wish or dispose of contaminated turf at Wastech (1200 United Blvd, Coquitlam) or Meadows Landscape Recycling Centre (17799 Ferry Slip Road, Pitt Meadows). Do not put contaminated turf in your green cart.
  • Re-seed damaged areas, using a roller on newly seeded areas for a good seed-soil contact. Apply a starter fertilizer.
  • For undamaged lawns, apply natural organic or slow-growth fertilizer. Turf experts recommend home lawns receive three to four pounds of nitrogen in a balanced fertilizer per 1,000 square foot of lawn each year.
  • Maintain a grass height of at least six centimeters and leave clippings on the lawn to act as mulch.
  • Water newly planted lawns frequently (daily if necessary) to keep the soil surface moist until 50 per cent of the seeds have germinated. See applicable city website for watering restriction exemptions.
  • Once lawns are established, follow local watering restrictions and water twice weekly for a total of about two and a half centimeters (depth of a tuna can) per week. Water on and off at 30-minute intervals to avoid run-off and allow the water to soak in.
  • Pre-order nematodes from the local garden centre, for application in late July.

Other Prevention Tips

If you hire landscapers, check to make sure they are properly cleaning their tools to avoid contamination. If you purchase topsoil, you may want to ask the vendor how they ensure their soil isn’t contaminated. Consider replacing turf with low-maintenance, broad-leaved plants such as Dutch white clover, brass buttons, Irish or Scotch moss, little star creeper, creeping thyme, goldmoss stonecrop or microclover.

Chafer beetle information

Visit the city websites above for information about other stages in the Chafer beetle lifecycle, recommended year-round lawn care activities, nematode treatment, and lawn sprinkling information. In the coming weeks, videos will be posted and printed information will be available at city facilities and at city events.

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