NEWS

Chafer beetle infestation worsens with drought conditions

07/23/2015 01:46 EDT | Updated 07/23/2016 05:59 EDT
The hot, dry weather and restrictions on sprinkling lawns in Metro Vancouver are making it harder for homeowners to fight the chafer beetles infesting lawns across the region.

Not only do chafer beetles prefer dead, dry lawns to lay their eggs in, but new watering restrictions in Metro Vancouver have ruled out one of the most common pest control methods: nematodes.

Nematodes are tiny roundworms that kill chafer beetles, but they need cool, moist ground to do their job. 

Under stage three water restrictions, all lawn sprinkling is strictly prohibited, and cities in Metro Vancouver are revoking water exemption permits that had previously been granted for this kind of pest control.  

Without water, the nematodes will die off. 

"They will have just as much effect if you flush them down the proverbial toilet as if you put them on your lawn, unfortunately," said Paul Corbett, co-owner of Cutting Edge Vancouver, a lawn and landscaping company.

This time of year is typically when nematode treatments are most effective, after the beetle eggs have hatched and when the young grubs are most vulnerable to nematode attack. 

Expect more chewed up lawns

Chafer beetles destroy lawns, not just by eating at plant root systems, but also by providing a tasty meal for skunks, birds and raccoons.

"They will do whatever it takes to get that food source, which usually means tearing your lawns apart," said Corbett. 

Last year was a particularly bad year for infestations, but Corbett thinks this year could be even worse, simply because people won't be allowed to take proper care of their lawns.

There are no treatments that do not require lawn sprinkling, he said.

Though Corbett admits the issue of the beetle infestation pales in comparison to not having enough drinking water, the lack of options is frustrating, he said.

"They have a very big abundance of savoury ground to lay their eggs in this year.

"There is really nothing you can do now."

To hear the full interview with Paul Corbett, listen to the audio labelled: Drought means good news for chafer beetles, bad news for lawns.

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