Lawn-eating beetle expected to make a return this year

Lawn-eating beetle expected to make a return this year

Beware the European chafer beetle.

The invasive species is expected to crawl out of the ground and attack people's lawns again this year.

Mike LaCroix, Fredericton's foreman for horticulture, parks and trees, said residents will likely know if they have an infestation by late April or early May.

"It'll be quite obvious," he said. "You'll see skunks or small animals digging at your lawn [and] there's nothing you can do.

"There's no silver bullet to save us from the chafer beetle."

The bugs are still in the ground, but they're expected to make an appearance in late April or early May when the soil temperature increases.

The grubs are light brown, grow to about one centimetre and feed on the roots of lawn grass.

The chafer beetle has been slowly moving into the East Coast year after year.

"Without any natural parasite to the beetle itself, it's going to keep growing and that population is going to keep growing over time," LaCroix said.

But LaCroix said the best thing people can do to save their lawns is apply nematodes in late July or August, after the mating period for the beetles.

A nematode, or roundworm, is a natural biological control for the grub that infiltrates the beetle and eats it from the inside out.

LaCroix said last year there was much turf damage on the city's sports fields. To regrow a healthy lawn, the city put about two billion nematodes on their sport fields.  

He recommends leaving lawns a bit longer to help fend off the bugs.

He said switching to a new grass seed could also be beneficial. The bugs enjoy snacking on Kentucky bluegrass.