Pesticide Free Education Program Failure | Port Moody Can’t Walk the Talk On Organic Pesticides |City of Port Moody : The European Chafer

The City of Porty Moody's Pesticide Free Education Campaign is an utter failure.

Pesticide Free Bc should be ashamed.

Education Programs for the Public Sponsored by the City that are ineffective at treating their Grub Problem.  May be the need healthy grass like in Ontario.

 



The European chafer (Rhizotrogus majalis) is an introduced insect to British Columbia that has become a serious lawn pest in the Lower Mainland. Since it was first discovered in New Westminster in late 2001, its geographic range has spread considerably throughout several Lower Mainland communities, including within the borders of Port Moody. 

The European chafer beetle is most damaging during its grub or larval stage. Grubs feed on roots of many different plants, but prefer the fibrous roots of turf grasses. Damage can be masked by abundant moisture in spring and fall, but drier weather reveals an emergence of brown patches. Major damage to lawns occurs when, birds, skunks and other predators turn over the lawn in search of these large white grubs in early fall and spring. The adult beetles seldom cause any significant damage. They are short-lived and do not bite or sting.

Learn more about prevention and control measures:

Description and Identification 

The adult beetle is tan coloured, measures approximately 1.5 cm in length, and resembles small June beetle. The grubs, measuring 2 to 2.5 cm, are soft, white, and C-shaped, with tan-coloured heads and six prominent legs. A microscope is required to confidently identify the grubs.

 

Appearance of European Chafer
Grubs in Dirt
  
european chafer

Scale of European Chafer Grubs

 european chafer

Adult European Chafer

european chafer 

Images retrieved from Ministry of Agricultural Lands Website at:http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/chafer.htm

European Chafer Biology

chafer biology
Image Adapted from the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association

April-Late June:

  • Adult beetles emerge from the soil on warm evenings and fly to broad-leaved trees to fed and mate in swarms. The adult beetles do not cause damage to lawns at this time.

July-September:

  • In June and July, mated females return to grassy areas where they can lay up to 50 eggs in the soil. The eggs hatch in about 2 weeks and the small grubs begin to feed on the roots of grass. During this time, damage to lawns results in dying patches of grass.

October-March:

  • The grubs grown and continue to feed in the fall and winter, where they remain within 5cm of the ground. The grubs continue to feed until they grow into adult beetles in May. Most of the damage to lawns occurs at this time, as birds, skunks and other predators turn over the lawn in search of the growing grubs.

Chafers complete their life cycle in one year, which can lead to rapid population increases. Additionally, as they are an introduced species, they have few natural predators to control their population and are difficult to eradicate. There are several ways to control and manage the European chafer and its impacts. 

Prevention – A healthy lush lawn is your first line of defense!

  • Healthy Lawn Maintenance- Increase mowing height (to 8-10 cm) and water your lawn deeply (to 2-3 cm). Tall and lush lawns are less prefer by egg-lying female beetles. Longer grass also means longer root systems that are more resilient to larval feeding. Additionally, naturally fertilize your lawn with organic fertilizer to maintain a healthy lawn.
  • Alternative Landscapes – Alternative low-maintenance ground covers plants can also be considered. There are several aesthetically pleasing options, which include Dutch white clover, creeping thyme, kinnikinnick, salal. Some residents have even considered the option of ornamental grass.
  • Exterior Lighting Reduction – As mating chafer beetles are attracted to light, reducing exterior lighting on your property during the mating and egg laying season in June and July, can ultimately reduce the number of grubs in your lawn.

Identification and Response

Infestation Identification:

  • Foraging birds, skunks and other predators are also a sign of a possible grub infestation.
  • Additionally, an infestation may lead to your grass feeling spongy (due to tunneling of grubs), and appearing wilted or dead.
  • Take the infestation monitoring test:
    • Cut 3 sides of a 30 by 30cm square of sod to a depth of 5cm;
    • Fold each square back and count the grubs;
    • If more than 5-10 grubs are found per section, chafer control may be necessary.

Lawn Damage Cause by Animals Foraging for Chafer Grubs
chafer damage
Source: Adapted from the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association

Response Options:

  • Biological Control -In combination with healthy lawn care practices, the application of nematodes, naturally-occurring microscopic worms, has been effective.
    • Nematodes seek-out, infect, and kill grubs, and are not hazardous to humans, animals or the environment;
    • Local garden supply stores carry products that contain the Heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematode, which is the specific species of nematode that used for chafer control;
    • Nematode treatment is most effective in late July after the hatching of chafer eggs.
  • Consider Lawn Conversion – Converting to alternative low-maintenance ground cover should be considered. Effective options include, Dutch white clover, creeping thyme, kinnikinnick, salal, ornamental grasses, or rocks.
  • Barriers – Set up barriers around infected areas to prevent foraging predators from turning the lawn. Fences, netting, or chicken wire are all effective options.

If you have an ongoing problem with European chafer, consider employing a professional company to help address the issue in a comprehensive manner.

Additional Information: 

European Chafer: A Management Strategy for the Lower Mainland- A Fact Sheet and Management Calendar 

The City of Port Moody does not allow pesticides or chemicals to treat chafer beetles, as per Bylaw No. 2575: 
Pesticide Use Control Bylaw No. 2575 

City of Port Moody : The European Chafer.



Drive around the Tri-Cities, or anywhere in the Lower Mainland for that matter, and you won't have to look hard to find the damage done by the European chafer beetle.

Port Moody's mayor only has to look out his window to see the destruction caused by the pest.

His own lawn, like many others in the community, has been ripped apart by wildlife searching for chafer beetle larvae.

The damage in landscape value in Port Moody is estimated to be several hundred thousand dollars, according to the mayor.

On Tuesday, he raised a motion asking city staff to look at options for treatment of lawns to prevent damage caused by the beetles, also called June bugs.

The question now is what treatments should be used to get rid of the problem.

Clay's motion included having staff look at both organic and chemical options, including a handful of pesticides currently banned in the city.

But the majority of council was opposed to the idea of exploring pesticides as an option, and voted it out of the original motion.

The mayor's motion also mentioned the use of predatory nematodes, a natural soil organism, but suggested the results have been mixed.

Coun. Zoe Royer argued the focus should be on non-pesticide options, adding the city prides itself on being the first municipality in B.C. to ban pesticides.

She also suggested the report downplays the use of nematodes as an option.

"I do think the city needs to play a role in educating residents and look at what would be best at treating this epidemic in our community," Royer said.

Coun. Megan Lahti said she would like to see other options brought forward.

"I see it as a huge step backwards. I don't think we're being very progressive if our first option is to just go to pesticides after we've banned them from the city," she said.

"There are other options out there that are done naturally. I'd like to see a little more effort put into a solution."

In the end, council asked staff to report back with options for minimizing damage caused by the beetles and provide information on natural alternatives, including nematodes.

Clay said residents have been asking the city for a solution to the problem.

"So they're saying 'You're prohibiting me from using the pesticide, so what can I do?' We need to figure out what the options are," he said, adding he hopes staff will come back with some options quickly.

The resolution also asked staff to provide an education program to

instruct residents on combating the beetle without the use of pesticides.

The chafer beetle is a non-native invasive pest that feeds on grass roots, resulting in dead patches of grass on lawns. The larvae (also known as grubs) are a delicious treat for birds, skunks, raccoons and other animals that will dig up lawns to feed on grubs in the soil.

Last spring, the City of Coquitlam offered free water exemption permits so soil can be kept moist if homeowners apply nematode treatments to kill chafer beetles in their lawns.

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