Chafer beetles ravage lawn in Port Moody bug war

Virginia Usher says promises of pest control left her with a hefty bill, a ravaged lawn and no hope for a fix without pesticides that are banned in Port Moody.

Virginia Usher has tried everything legal to rid her grass of pests, and so far they've won

Virginia Usher is in a war with chafer beetles and losing fast. She says every promise of pest control let her down. (Tristan LeRudulier/CBC)

Virginia Usher is battling chafer beetles and losing.

"It's going to continue to spread if we don't do something that works," said Usher.

The Port Moody homeowner has tried everything legal — from cayenne pepper to nematodes. She feels let down by her lawn care company, the city and the empty promises that these pests can be kept in check without pesticides.

Property ground zero for grubs

So Usher sent her tale to #MyLocalStory.

The invasive beetle burrows deep into lawns and attracts animals that dig for the tasty bugs, destroying the lawn in the process.

City officials admit they have no solution.

Tiny chafer beetles burrow into the ground, causing predators to dig up turf and lawn to find them. (Notafly/Wikimedia)

"I have a lot of sympathy for her because we are going through the same thing, " said Neil Carley, Port Moody's general manager of engineering and parks. "It's a very serious issue. I don't know of a single municipality that's not affected by the chafer beetle."

The city website suggests intensive lawn care, extra top dressing, nemoatodes or landscaping alternatives to lawns. Drought has made the situation worse.

"It's a real problem, and not just for Port Moody but for the entire region," said Carley.

Despite this no pesticides are allowed for "cosmetic" purposes in Port Moody.

Usher's lawn is ripped up daily by birds and the "raccoon party" that comes nightly.

"I'm just going to have to wait until the spring because it's too frustrating to deal with it all now."

Usher spent more then $600 trying to fix the thriving three-year infestation.

Frustrated, just very frustrated.Virginia Usher

She said that Nutri-lawn promised her control, but the lawn company literature explains that even at their best, nematodes are only up to 60 percent effective.

Nutri-lawn's owner Robert Bourne regrets Usher's situation.

"At this point she has seen devastation in her entire front lawn ...That property has been ground zero for grubs," Bourne said, adding that they will be providing Usher with free service to try to repair her lawn.

But when it comes to chafer beetles in general: "There aren't many options that are left. Nematodes are the only option we have. Pesticides are banned. I wish I could offer more to our clients."

When Usher rakes up the ruined lawn, she must then take the debris to a disposal company. It can't go in the green bin to prevent further infestation.

"I've done everything I am supposed to do and now I am supposed to pay ($15 a wheelbarrow)  on top of that?"

"I just wish that the city would come up with another method, or allow other methods. I've done every single, solitary thing their website says I'm supposed to do ... I am just frustrated. Very frustrated."

What's your story?

This story is part of a special CBC Vancouver News series, What's Your Story? 

The series focuses on issues pitched by our audience about what matters to them. 

If you have a story to pitch about an issue in your community, send it to mylocalstory@cbc.ca

With Files from Stephanie Mercier


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