Chafer beetle control
As you may have noticed, many lawns in the Vancouver area have been destroyed by animals who are foraging for chafer beetle larvae which can burrow under your lawn. As licensed pesticide applicators with up-to-date documentation, we offer two cost-effective solutions to combat this problem. We follow all laws and procedures strictly to maximize effectiveness, minimize costs, and keep the environmental footprint at its lowest possible level. See below for the types of treatment we offer.
- Peace of mind knowing your lawn will not be torn up
- No need to chase animals off your property!
- No need for expensive turf repairs in following years
Please note that, being compliant with City of Vancouver health bylaw 9535, we can only apply Merit to control or destroy chafer beetles which have caused infestation to property, being the presence of beetles and their larvae in numbers or under conditions which involve an immediate or potential risk of substantial loss or damage. If this does not apply to your property, we are only able to use nematodes.
Our service area for both nematodes and Merit is restricted to Vancouver.
The European chafer beetle has ravaged lawns in our neighbourhood and across the city. The lawns that you have seen dug up are due to animals, mainly raccoons, skunks and crows searching for beetle larvae to feed on. The life cycle of the chafer beetle is such that from late July until early June they are underground as larvae, and only emerge in late June as adults. They have a very short life span as adults, living for only a few weeks before laying their eggs and dying in July.
What can I do about it?
The only time you can take action against the beetle is during mid July to early August when the larvae are at their most vulnerable stage. After this period, the immune system of the larvae is strong enough to repel any action taken against them. There are two treatment options, which are listed below and which both have their positives and negatives. It is important to note that both options are preventative in nature. If you do not take action now, and you find that animals are destroying your lawn later in the year, there is very little you can do until next year to prevent damage. There are two cost effective treatments available.
Merit is a low toxicity pesticide produced by Bayer. It signals the beetles to stop feeding, meaning they starve to death. It is extremely effective and because of low use rates and its selectivity, has a low environmental impact. After being watered in, the product enters the soil, meaning animals and humans have minimal potential for exposure. It also breaks down rapidly, meaning that even if you did want to dig up the lawn to convert to a garden or other use in the future, there is little to no chance of danger. As it binds to the soil there is no risk of leaching when applied properly. It can only be purchased by a professional with a current applicator’s license.
After application Merit must be watered into the lawn for about 30 minutes, or until the granules have been watered into the soil.
Nematodes are microscopic round worms which are sprayed over the lawn in the third and fourth weeks of July. These live organisms seek out and hunt chafer beetles, eating the larvae from the inside. These microorganisms pose no danger to humans, other animals or other species of beneficial insects. They stay in the soil for several weeks, before they themselves die off. Although various studies have shown nematodes to be anywhere from 60-80 percent effective, my experience has been that they are actually more effective when applied properly.
Before application, the lawn must be watered for several hours. After application the lawn must again be watered for several hours, to move the nematodes down into the soil. As nematodes are extremely sensitive to UV light, the application is done in the early morning or late evening. If the nematodes are not properly watered in, they will die, and will not provide any protection. The lawn must also be watered daily for the next two weeks in order to keep the nematodes alive in the soil and to facilitate their movement to hunt down the chafer larvae. A watering permit will be provided to allow you to water daily, during the morning, for several weeks after application.
Pros and cons
|Room for error||Low||Medium|
Merit will consistently give better results than nematodes. While Merit will result in ridding almost your entire lawn of chafer beetles, nematodes will usually not. Various factors in their effectiveness involve types of soil which nematodes are better or worse at travelling in, the amount of moisture that different types of soil can absorb and how much moisture the lawn receives. Almost all lawns have chafer beetle larvae, however many are spared from destruction from animals because the quantity is low. One problem is that if your lawn has a low amount of chafer beetles yet you are in a neighbourhood where animals are destroying other lawns, the chances of having animals explore your lawn by digging up small sections, or fully destroying your lawn are heightened.
Merit requires no watering prior to application, and only one period of watering immediately after application, to move the granules down into the soil. No watering is necessary afterwards.
Prior to application of nematodes, the lawn must be thoroughly watered. After application the lawn must also be thoroughly watered to ensure that the nematodes move into the soil. As nematodes are killed by exposure to UV light, if they are not watered in soon after application, they will die, leaving no protection against chafer beetles. As nematodes hunt down the larvae by travelling with water, the lawn must hold a sufficient amount of moisture for a period of two weeks after application. This means daily watering. Any break in watering during this two week period will lead to decreased effectiveness. Some things to consider are the size of the lawn, the reach of your sprinklers, and the amount of water pressure. All areas of the lawn must be watered on a daily basis. If you have a small lawn, this should not be a problem. You can simply set out your sprinklers and water for 30 minutes. If you have a larger property, this will involve moving sprinklers and allowing each area to be watered for 30 minutes, meaning that you could spend several hours daily watering the lawn. Keep in mind that even with a watering permit, which you will receive, you are only permitted to water the lawn from 4-9am.
- Room for error
After applying Merit, it must be watered in during the next 24 hours. Leaving it on the lawn longer than this will reduce its effectiveness. After watering in, there is no other maintenance.
Nematodes must be watered daily for a two week period following their application. Missing any of those watering days, or not watering all areas of the lawn will reduce its effectiveness. Also, the lawn must be watered prior to application, and then immediately afterwards. If not, nematodes may be killed, making them 0% effective.
As Merit is easy to apply, and can only be applied by licensed professionals who have taken extensive training and a certification exam, there is a very low chance of error when applying. As nematodes are living organisms, there is more potential for problems. You may have heard stories of neighbours having various companies apply nematodes to their lawn only to have their lawn destroyed by animals. There are a variety of reasons why this may have happened. First, as it is a liquid, there have been reports of individuals offering the service who may have not even applied nematodes, rather just spraying water. Other than those individuals who are less than honest, there are many honest mistakes that may occur. First, any trace amounts of pesticide or herbicide that may exist in the spraying mechanism can kill the nematodes. If the individual has bought the mechanism second hand, there is no way to know for certain if this is an effective piece of equipment for spraying. The sprayer I use was purchased new, and has never been used for any pesticides. Secondly, sprayers contain several filters, and unless the user has the expertise to identify and remove the filters, they may actually filter out the nematodes, spraying only water. I have removed all filters. Third, there must be a sufficient amount of nematodes present in the solution in order for them to be effective. I apply more than the recommended amount of 70,000 nematodes per square foot, which mitigates any chance of error which may occur from there being an uneven amount of the invisible nematodes in the solution. Fourth, nematodes need to be kept at a low temperature prior to application. As I purchase directly from the wholesaler, the chances of the nematodes having been previously destroyed due to exposure to high temperatures are greatly reduced.
- Environmental impact
Merit is a chemical treatment while nematodes are completely organic. If individuals enter the lawn and come into contact with Merit before it has been watered into the lawn, and somehow ingest it or have it come into contact with their skin, there can be negative effects. To mitigate against this I do two things. First, a notice of application will be posted on the lawn, informing passersby not to tread on the lawn, and informing them of the name of the product, the Health Canada registration number, the active ingredient, as well as my contact information in the unlikely case that they do come into contact with the product. Secondly, I highly discourage anyone from rolling around on the lawn nude, until the product has been watered in. (Seriously, that would be disturbing, wouldn’t it?). After the product has been watered into the lawn, there is very little chance of coming into contact with it. The same goes for if the product is not watered in right away, as it breaks down rapidly on the lawn, however this also reduces its effectiveness.
As mentioned previously, nematodes are completely organic. While there is a synthetic powder that is added to the nematodes to keep them in a dormant state until application, this is not dangerous in any way. After the nematodes are applied, they enter the soil where they die after several weeks. The only negative environmental effect comes from the fact that you must water the lawn prior to application and daily for two weeks after application. This large output of water occurs at the same time when our city receives its lowest amount of precipitation.
- Cost effectiveness
The price for these treatments is very cost effective when considering the alternatives. First, they offer varying degrees of peace of mind. By being proactive, you are eliminating or at least lowering the chances that you will have animals destroying your lawn. Once animals start digging up your lawn, you have few options. You can try such measures as laying unsightly chicken wire or other wire fencing over the lawn, setting up electrified fencing (people actually do this) or setting up sprinklers with motion sensors. Even if these methods are effective for keeping animals off (which they are not), the chafer beetle larvae still eat away at the roots of your lawn, leaving dead areas. The cost of repairing a lawn can be very expensive. Materials such as seed, soil or turf, as well as the labour will very easily be many times more what you would pay to prevent the unsightly damage occurring in the first place.
Can I apply these two treatments myself?
Merit can only be purchased and applied by a licensed professional.
Nematodes, however, as a completely organic option, can be purchased at hardware stores and applied by yourself. One option is to mix them up in a watering can and manually spread them over the lawn, stirring constantly to keep the nematodes suspended in the solution. You can also purchase them in a container which attaches to a hose. The caveat here being that as they are both invisible and very light, it is very hard to know how many are remaining in the package when applying, which can result in uneven application. As purchasing from a hardware store also means that there is a more complex supply chain, there are more chances that the nematodes were at some point left in temperatures which are higher than their tolerance and have already perished prior to application.
In conclusion, if you have a smaller lawn, or a larger lawn with a sprinkler system which you can program accordingly, the discipline and time to water your lawn daily for two weeks, and don’t mind having a bit of uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of the treatment, nematodes may be the best choice for you.
If you have a larger lawn without a sprinkler system which covers the entire area, you have experienced a chafer beetle infestation in the past, and value the peace of mind of having the best protection available, Merit may be the best choice. You will also need to make sure that no one enters the lawn for the 24 hour period after application and be committed to having it watered in right after application. I can also turn on the sprinklers after application.