Although they arrived from Europe, they’re well at home now in BC’s Lower Mainland and many other regions. This lively beetle (Amphimallon majalis) has an annual life cycle that is worth understanding in an attempt to control it. The beetle spends its childhood and teen years as a grub in the soil, feeding on the roots of grasses, particularly in lawn areas. As an adult, it emerges, mates, and then lays the eggs for a new generation.
In the larval stage, the chafer can cause some damage to lawns resulting in brown patches. But because they are so substantial, they make an ideal source of protein for birds and mammals (particularly crows and raccoons, but skunks are known to devour this as well). The grubs are at their largest (and most appetizing) exactly when local wildlife is preparing for spring nesting and breeding. It’s the critters that cause most of the damage to lawns as they search out these delicious treats.
The Chafer Life Cycle
In the spring, from April to late June, the adult beetles emerge from the ground and gather near the tops of deciduous trees to mate. Soon after, the females descend and deposit as many as fifty eggs each in the soil.
The eggs hatch in July and the larvae begin feeding on the roots of turf grass. If they’re present in dense numbers, this can result in the ground having a spongy feel as the grubs tunnel beneath it. Brown patches of lawn can result from infestations.
The grubs continue to grow as they feed from October to March. During this whole length of time, damage may be caused by foraging birds and mammals, but it intensifies as the larvae grow. In the Vancouver region, the damage is most intense as March approaches. The grubs typically linger within 5cm (2″) of the soil surface, but they will burrow deeper in cold weather.
In May, the grubs pupate in preparation for emergence as new spring adults.
Organic Solutions for the European Chafer
The first option is to cultivate a really healthy lawn that will naturally recover from the presence of the grubs. This is labour-intensive, and involves routine aerating, dethatching, fertilizing, and deep watering of grassy areas.
A second option is to apply predatory nematodes in the third week in July, just when they might parasitize the eggs and early larval stage of the chafers. While nematodes are a good solution for many soil dwelling beetle species, timing is critical in the control of chafer beetles. The application of nematodes involves soaking the treated area before and after so they can get down into the soil. You may need to apply for a water exemption permit, depending on water restrictions in your area. Contact White Rock city hall to find out more.
The third option, is to transform your turf into an area with greater biodiversity by integrating multiple species. Tall fescue, turf type is a classic example of a grass type that has deeper roots than conventional lawn grasses, and it’s an incredibly sturdy plant. It will stand up to traffic, drought, cold, shade, pets, mowing, and chafer beetles.
Need an Organic Solution to a Chafer Beetle Infestation in Surrey, White Rock, Langley or Metro Vancouver?
Have you had problems with your lawn and need some help? We’re experts at dealing with these infestations with safe, natural and organic methods and we’d be happy to help. Contact Ladybug today for help with this or any of your landscaping needs, we provide a wide range of landscaping services; Sustainable Garden Design & Consultation, Delivery and Installation, and Sustainable Garden Maintenance.
Book in for next year today to ensure this year was the last year you had to deal with this troublesome infestation.