Fredericton lawns at the mercy of invasive beetle

Fredericton lawns at the mercy of invasive beetle

If you live in Fredericton and your lawn is a mess, you can probably blame a grub — and the birds and animals that find it so tasty.

The European chafer beetle, specifically its grub form, is infesting lawns in the capital, says Don Murray, the manager of parks and trees for the City of Fredericton.

The mostly white grubs curled like a C will kill a lawn. But the earliest visible damage may be the holes and other damage made by birds and animals searching for the grubs to eat.

Spring is the peak time.

"It has come out in full force this spring and it is damaging a lot of grass lawns in the Fredericton area," Murray said. 

- Insecticide toxic to bees promoted to kill Vancouver chafer beetles 

- Lawn-destroying beetle survived winter 

The culprits tearing up lawns are largely birds, skunks and raccoons. Murray said it can be entertaining to watch the feasting.

"It's kind of interesting to watch a crow and see what it can do to your front lawn," he said. "It'll toss that turf three or four feet in the air. Then it will pick the grubs out of the ground."

While it may seem counter-intuitive, Murray said the best plan is not to chase the lawn-digging animals away.

"Let the birds continue to feed," he said. "Don't chase the birds, raccoons [or] skunks away. They are a form of control.

"The damage is already done. The skunks, and crows and birds are just telling you it's there."

Normally not travellers

Although originally from Europe, the beetle grub became a major problem in British Columbia and has managed to make its way east in only 10 years. This is fairly impressive for an insect that Murray said will only fly 200 yards in a year.

He has a theory for why it reached Fredericton so quickly.

"Somebody visited a relative in the Vancouver area [and] liked the plant they had growing in their shrub bed," he said. "They probably took a one-gallon pail full of soil and a plant and brought it home with them."