New Brunswick

European chafer beetle attacks N.B. lawns

A mystery beetle that has been killing lawns in Fredericton has been identified as the European chafer beetle.

A mystery beetle that has been killing lawns in Fredericton has been identified as the European chafer beetle.

Some homeowners in the city have found in recent weeks that despite continuous wet weather, lawns were turning yellow and dying.

Tiny white grubs were found and sent to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada lab in Ottawa, where testing confirmed it was the European chafer beetle — which was first reported in Canada in the Niagara region of Ontario in 1959.

"My gut feeling is this is going to be feeding maybe as much as another three weeks and then it will pupate," said Don Murray, the city forester of the parks and trees division.

"Then we will see a bunch of small June bug-like beetles in the month of July."

Pesticides are banned in Fredericton, so Murray said that will not be an option for homeowners who want to keep their lawns beetle-free. He said skunks and crows will feed on them but there is very little anyone can do to protect lawns from the European chafer beetle, except to leave the grass long.

"Don't mow your lawn two inches anymore and make it look like a golf course. Keep your lawn long because the female beetle prefers to lay its eggs in short lawns," he said.

Murray said with any luck, a typical cold New Brunswick winter will kill off the beetle this winter so it will not be a problem next spring.

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