Friday, February 6, 2015

Backyard beetles: apocalypse on the lawn





NEWS

Chafer beetle wreaks havoc on Rochester back yard





Mandy and Bob Harrison survey the chafer beetle damage in the back yard of their Rochester Avenue home.


— Image Credit: SARAH PAYNE/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

by Sarah Payne - The Tri-City News
posted Feb 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Bob Harrison and his wife, Mandy, have lived in their Rochester Avenue home for 30 years, having fallen in love with the view that stretches all the way to the Fraser River, the flat, expansive back yard and the creek flowing beside the house.

Never in those 30 years did they expect to be dealing with a pest the likes of the chafer beetle.

In the past few months the Harrisons have watched their carefully tended lawn turn into an apocalyptic battle scene — the crows pecking away at great chunks of grass, turning it into bubbled balls of turf, and the raccoons laying waste to entire swaths, nosing the sod up and rolling it back with nary a root in sight.

"We had a beautiful lawn here for years and years," Harrison said, shaking his head as he surveyed the damage in his back yard.

And after months of trying to battle the chafer beast, Harrison is throwing up his hands in defeat.

"What do we do with this? It's totally ruined," he said of the more than 6,000 sq. ft. yard.

The couple's grandson did a bit of online research for them and came up with coyote urine as a possible antidote, so Harrison picked up a small bottle from an outdoors store in Bellingham. He sprinkled some on a test patch of grass and tied a urine-soaked rag to a stake that he set out in another area.

"That night the raccoons came back, sniffed around — it didn't bother them at all," Harrison said. "The next night the crows came back as well."

In the meantime, they're also keeping an eye on the front yard, which has somehow escaped the chafer invasion; Mandy figures the large trees and longer grass out front prevent the flying beetles from landing to lay their eggs.

And they're also looking into alternative methods of engaging with the enemy, possibly saying good-bye to their grass and checking into clover, Mandy said, because "maybe the roots aren't as tasty?



BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. . . 


Patience needed to deal with chafer beetle — Wim Vander Zalm





Wim Vander Zalm, owner of Art Knapp in Port Coquitlam, said with spring approaching in just a few months, gardeners are eager to get out into their yard, and many are appalled at what they see — lawns torn up by crows and raccoons searching for chafer beetle larvae to eat

— Image Credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

by Diane Strandberg - The Tri-City News

posted Feb 5, 2015 at 6:00 PM— updated Feb 6, 2015 at 12:24 PM

Owners of lawns decimated by chafer beetles and the crows and raccoons that love to eat them will need to be patient — revenge will come soon enough.

That’s the advice of Wim Vander Zalm, the owner of Art Knapp in Port Coquitlam, who has seen gardening trends and concerns come and go but admits he’s seen nothing like the chafer beetle infestation that has ruined lawns from Coquitlam to Port Coquitlam and caused thousands of dollars in damage to city property.

“It’s an epidemic, people can’t believe it,” said Vander Zalm in the store he’s owned for several years that is gradually switching over from winter stock to the brightly coloured flowers of spring, and where people are going to get the latest information about ridding their yards of chafer beetle grubs.

In fact, as many as two dozen people a day are either phoning or coming in personally to his store to get advice on what to do, and sadly, the best thing he can say for now is be patient.




“We don’t know if this will be passing, we don’t know what they are doing. We are trying to evaluate how these insects will evolve over time. Right now, we know they like it here.”

Some people are considering lawn alternatives such as creeping thyme, Dutch White Clover, salal and sedum, while others are ripping out lawns and replacing it with paving stones, gravel or bark mulch, river rock, a vegetable garden or even artificial turf.




What I love about these articles is the "we don't know why they're here" tone that echoes an old Godzilla movie:

In the past few months the Harrisons have watched their carefully tended lawn turn into an apocalyptic battle scene — the crows pecking away at great chunks of grass, turning it into bubbled balls of turf, and the raccoons laying waste to entire swaths, nosing the sod up and rolling it back with nary a root in sight.

Not only that, but people are going to drastic measures, such as paving their front yards or laying down astroturf to keep the critters away. Should cut down on mowing time, as well.

Only in dear old suburban British Columbia would an infestation of worms in the yard be described as an "apocalypse". One wonders if that reporter wasn't just a leetle bit jestful in her report.




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