European Chafer Beetle In Vancouver Up Close

Up Close with the European Chafer Beetle

Wondering what has been destroying lawns around BC? It’s the European Chafer Turf Pest or Chafer Beetle.

This time of year these ugly suckers can be seen mating in the trees at dusk and each one can lay up to 50 eggs in the surrounding lawn.  Those eggs turn into grubs (ick) that feed on the roots of grass until they get ripped out and munched on by crows, raccoons, or skunks.

Since this introduced pest has limited natural predators (besides the aforementioned grub-snackers) we are seeing turf around the GVRD is being destroyed in a street-by-street wave all by a beetle no bigger than a penny.

What can you do to about it?  In my opinion, replacing and reseeding your lawn every year is futile and expensive – you are really just planting gourmet micro-greens for grubs.  Why not take the hint and get rid of that thirsty high-maintenance patch of grass and replace it with a vegetable garden or some ground covers?  Here are some lovely ideas of lawn-free landscaping that look better without grass – and never need mowing.

Landscaping with rocks, water features, and flowering ground covers is an attractive and environmentally-friendly grass lawn alternative.

So far my lawn hasn’t been too badly damaged but I leave the grass long and full of clover, speedwell, and moss.  I think it looks festive with various flowers in bloom and full of bees.  And if what lawn I do have can’t withstand the grubs in the future, it’s just an excuse for more garden.  It’s a hard thing to say goodbye to an old friend, but if change is forced upon us, perhaps it isn’t worth the fight but instead is opportunity for something new.  Like a water feature or a heirloom tomato garden or a herb wheel or a rockery or….

If you’d like to learn more about Chafer Beetles then check out the Vancouver Park Board’s brochure.  And stay tuned because over the next few months I’ll be posting more on Chafer Beetles (read: future studio shots of the grubs) as well as ideas on how to deal with our changing landscape.

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Laura
    LauraJune 30,10

    I am happy to say I haven’t come across these little critters. But I applaud your argument for removing sod and planting ground covers!

  2. Heather @ Dusty Bay
    Heather @ Dusty BayJune 30,10

    Thanks for the heads up – I’ll watch for them on the Island. I agree with you too about using ground covers instead of lawn.

  3. meemsnyc
    meemsnycJune 30,10

    Wow, that little bugger really causes some damage! Yuck!

  4. Priscilla Prince
    Priscilla PrinceJune 30,10

    The Chafer Beetle looks scary, yikes!

  5. Stevie
    StevieJune 30,10

    Laura – lucky you!

    Heather – You’re welcome. Let’s hope they don’t travel by ferry.

    meemsnyc – I know!

    Pricilla – not scary, just very damaging. The one who posed for the photos was very groggy b/c they sleep all day long. (S)He was an excellent model.

  6. Sunita
    SunitaJuly 1,10

    What a great incentive for lawn-free gardens! I wonder whether neem would work on them?

  7. Stevie
    StevieJuly 1,10

    Hi Sunita – thanks for the suggestion. At this time the beetles aren’t doing too much damage to foliage, it’s the grubs feeding on turf roots and the wildlife digging them up that s damaging lawns.

  8. jay chua
    jay chuaJuly 1,10

    Wau..I just feel like I just receive practical lesson on how to deal with beetle in my garden..thanks for sharing the article:)

    Jay Chua

  9. Kat
    KatJuly 4,10

    Those nasty little buggers. We get a lot of grub damage here too. I think ripping out the lawns makes perfect sense too. Get rid of the habitat and get rid of the pest.
    Not sure I want to see studio shots of the grubs though. Those things are really icky.

  10. Linda
    LindaJuly 6,10

    Oh my, what a destructive critter! Thanks for the closeup and the link to more info. I’ll be on the lookout. Yet another reason to replace lawns with drought and pest tolerant groundcovers.

  11. Shirley
    ShirleyJuly 11,10

    I echo everyone’s sentiments when I say “ugh” to the Chafer Beetle!!! So glad it is not here in our area. Is anything being done to control the beetle population?

  12. Bee
    BeeApril 17,11

    Hello from Southeastern Michigan. Yes, the Euro Chafer Beetle is now a serious pest here, the problem having flamed over our winter of lots of snow covering the turf. The same plot of damaged turf measuring 4′ x 4′ last Fall has now emerged this Spring to 10′ x 10′ damage. I have 2 acres of lawn, and I’d estimate 1/12th has fallen prey. As I drive around my rural community, some yards are almost totally violated. I’ve been researching on line almost non stop to find any preventative or curative measures (unfortunately for our environment, we are free to spray whatever and however many chemicals we wish). When I originally thought I was dealing with Japanese Beetles, Milky Spore was very attractive to me, but it’s not supposed to do much for the Euro Chafer, so back to square 1 to find solutions. Will incorporate Dutch White Clover wherever possible in the barren areas.

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