Nova Scotia

Crows tearing up north Dartmouth lawns in search of food

The crows are attracted to grubs, which are infesting local lawns. 'They've kind of taken over,' says one resident.

'It's a mess,' says one resident who he trying to get rid of grub infestation

Grubs are popping up all over north Dartmouth yards. (CBC)

Lawns in north-end Dartmouth are under attack by crows ripping up the grass to get at an infestation of beetle larvae, also known as grubs.

"It's a mess here," said Jim Dewolfe, who's lived on Moira Street for 40 years. "They've kind of taken over."

The first time he said he noticed the problem was in 2016, but a year later it's worse. He has a bucket handy with pebbles that he throws at the crows to try to keep them at bay.

His problems come as another Nova Scotia community faces grub and bird issues. Middleton has been forced to close it municipally run sports fields because seagulls and other animals are tearing up the turf to get to the insects.

A crow in north Dartmouth on one of the ripped up lawns. (CBC)

The only real solution is to try to reduce the what's attracting the birds. Grubs are short, fat worms, while another problem larvae called leatherjackets are longer, skinnier and are black or brown, according to Emily Tregunno, a gardening expert at Halifax Seed. 

In north Dartmouth it appears the white larvae are the problem.

There is only one approved treatment product available in Nova Scotia, according to Tregunno. It's called a nematode, which is a microscopic worm that eats specific insects from the inside out.

"So if you have a grub or a leatherjacket, you need a different species of nematode in order to control them," said Tregunno.

Some residents have put coverings on their lawn to stop the crows from tearing it apart. (CBC)

The cool spring weather is not helping the situation because nematodes cannot be spread on lawns until the temperature warms up.

It could be the end of May before the nematodes can be applied, and one application may not be enough.

"My neighbour bought it and right now it doesn't seem to be working," said DeWolfe. "We're waiting for somebody to come up with another solution."

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca