Repairing Chafer Beetle Lawn Damage

If your lawn is being torn up by small animals and you don't know why, you've probably got a chafer grub problem

Credit: Flickr / Stv

Your lawn can be devastated by animals searching for a chafer beetle meal

Protect your lawn from destructive varmints looking for chafer grubs

Q: What can I do about the European chafer grubs that have raccoons tearing up (and destroying) my lawn in order to get at them?

A: The chafer beetle is a very large grub found at certain times of year under the surface of your lawn — and it is quite a delicacy for crows, raccoons, and skunks, which will rip through turf to get to them. The majority of lawn damage related to this chafer-fueled feeding frenzy happens in early spring, and can be compared to the results of a rototiller churning through your grass.

Repairing the damage consists of packing your lawn down, levelling any pitting with fresh soil and sand, and re-seeding with a quality lawn seed. The repaired patches should then be fed with a slow-release lawn fertilizer.

To prevent chafer-beetle damage in the future, consider a mid-summer application of nematodes, available from your local garden centre. Nematodes are a microscopic wormy-looking creature that when released (and we’re talking about millions of them per package) in water and applied to your lawn, will search out and destroy any newly hatched chafer beetle larvae.

A Year in the Life of a Chafer Beetle

The European chafer beetle completes its life cycle in one year. Eggs hatch around mid-July, and the grubs molt twice over eight weeks. The mature grubs are well adapted to cool, moist conditions, and feed on the roots of your lawn all fall.

During the winter, they dig down during periods of freezing conditions, but otherwise remain within 2 in. (5 cm) of the surface. They feed in the spring until April, when they become pupae.

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Adults emerge in late May, fly to nearby deciduous trees to mate and feed, and subsequently females deposit up to fifty eggs each — usually in one of the nice nearby lawns.

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