• Steve

Everything You Need to Know About European Chafer Beetle

Updated: Jul 30, 2018

One of the most important parts of your yard - the section which brings everything together - is your lawn. Your lawn takes time and effort to maintain; you have to water it once a day, mow it once a week, and fertilize it at least three times a year. Once you achieve the luscious, healthy lawn of your dreams, the last thing you want is for something to ruin it.


Cue the European chafer beetle, the insect that is reeking havoc on lawns all over the lower mainland. The chafer is an insect whose larvae feed on the roots of turf grass. The reason lawns pay the price for this unwelcome pest is because crows, raccoons, and skunks tear up the turf in an excited search for the tasty chafer grub.


Just because you don’t see the problem initially, doesn’t mean you don’t have chafers. Female beetles can fly two miles and lay over 50 eggs!


What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Chafer Beetle Infestation?


A Lawn which has been destroyed by chafer beetle
Credit: City of Vancouver

A few telltale signs of a chafer beetle infestation are:

  • Lifeless, yellow bits of grass

  • Roots have been eaten and ripped from the ground

    A lawn destroyed by chafer beetle

  • Churned up grass


What is the Lifecycle of a Chafer Beetle?


The life of a chafer beetle only lasts one year.


April to Late June:


Adult beetles emerge from the soil and fly to nearby deciduous (broad-leaved) trees to mate and feed. Once they’ve mated, females fly over two miles and lay up to 50 eggs, as mentioned above. During this time, beetles cause minimal damage to turf.


July to September:


Eggs hatch in July, and the larvae, also considered grubs, begin to feed on turf grass roots. Infected turf may feel “spongy” when stepped on due to the grubs tunnelling underneath. During this time, damages to turf can include brown patches of grass.


October to March:


During this time, grubs grow as they continue to feed through fall and winter. They remain within 5cm of the surface unless in freezing conditions when they burrow even deeper into the soil. In this stage of their life, they are causing the most serious damage to your lawn. Birds, skunks, and other predators dig up grasses to feed on the mature grubs. The grubs continue to feed until they pupate to become adult beetles in May.


What can you or a Professional do to fix the Problem?


As evident above, the European chafer beetle is a serious problem to the health and overall appearance of your lawn. So what can you, independently or with the help of a professional, do to help?


We have five solutions to control this serious problem.


1. Overseed with a Microclover and a Tall Fescue Seed Mix


Let wild animals eat as many of the bugs as possible. As they continue to rip apart your lawn, rake the dead clumps of grass to expose more of the grub. This will allow the animals easy access to eat the grubs without ruining more of your lawn.


By the end of April, the grub should be mostly gone and the animals will no longer tear up your lawn. At this point, you should overseed with a microclover and a tall fescue seed mix. The chafer beetles do not like to eat the roots of this type of plant.


2. Routine Maintenance


Cultural control is the first line of defense in maintaining a healthy, luscious lawn. Through routine maintenance, we can try to get ahold of the problem and defeat the intruder before your lawn pays a serious price.

Lanscapers laying sod

We suggest to focus on areas such as:

  • Fertilizing program

  • Moss killer

  • Liming

  • Mowing

  • Aerating

  • Power raking

  • Top dressing and overseeding


3. Chafer Beetle Infestation Treatment


It is important to note that when we refer to infestation treatment we are not advising to use pesticides as they are prohibited in the lower mainland. We suggest to apply nematodes.


Nematodes are microscopic worms, which are sprayed over the lawn. These live organisms attack and kill chafer beetle larvae. They pose no danger to humans or animals and eventually die off. Nematodes are one of the most effective solutions when applied properly.


4. Repair Damaged Areas


This solution is a longer, more costly one, but is still effective in ridding of the chafer beetle. We suggest, if you follow this suggestion, you remove debris, install new soil, reseed, or install new turf.


5. Other Possible Solutions


If none of the above suggestions appealed to you, we have a few more things you can try. All of the following ideas include installation. You can install:

  • An alternative ground cover such as low maintenance plants and ornamental grasses

  • Artificial turf

  • Round river rock

  • Ornamental rock

What Happens if the Chafer Beetle Goes Untreated?


Some believe ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to chafer beetle something needs to be done. If it goes untreated, not only will your lawn be destroyed, the chafer beetle will spread to your neighbours’ lawns as well.


This is usually why when you see one house that is affected, you will see the same problem in the neighbouring lawns.


You are not alone in your struggles with European chafer beetle, this is an epidemic on the lower mainland. It is important to catch the problem early and quickly decide which solution you are going to use and incorporate it as soon as possible. Whatever solution you decide on, we are here to help. We have extensive experience with the chafer beetle and understand exactly how to solve the problem to make sure your beautiful, healthy lawn stays intact.


Feel free to contact us at eternalspring@shaw.ca or by phone at 604-971-4844 to receive a free quote.

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