Tri-cities to wage expensive battle against chafer beetle

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Solutions to the long-time lawn infestations soon to be in progress

By Alex Stanton, Staff Writer

The European chafer beetle has reportedly been infesting BC lawns since 2001, but 2015 has seen a mass increase in the insects and resulting damage.

The region-wide infestation has been most predominant in the tri-cities areas of New Westminster, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam, as well as Burnaby. The insects have caused major damage to Coquitlam in particular, according to a city staff report, which states that eight per cent of city-owned turf—55,000 square metres—has been heavily compromised by the beetles and, more notably, by the animals who hunt them, such as crows. Animals searching for the bugs do so by picking at and tearing up grass, which has resulted in torn up lawns.

“Based on this assessment, a turf remediation program has been developed and will commence shortly,” according to the statement. “It is expected that this insect will continue to be an ongoing challenge in Coquitlam, requiring a higher level of proactive turf-care practices that will help ensure against repeated turf destruction.”

The report goes on to point out that residential lawns that are properly taken care of will generally be better off than those that are not regularly maintained.

The same staff report, according to the Tri-City News, puts the taxpayers’ bill at $250,000. $30,000 of the total will be put towards fixing Robinson Memorial, a central Coquitlam located cemetery which has suffered substantial damage. A budget highlights booklet released this year by the City of Port Coquitlam, where the affected land area is lower than its namesake neighbour, states that $104,000 of the city’s budget will go towards eradicating the pests; the Port Coquitlam Cemetery, where famous Canadian Terry Fox rests, has also had its grass tarnished.

Port Moody also joined the fight against the chafer beetles as of this year; however, due to city bans, chemical agents like pesticides aren’t an option for the city. The idea of exploring pesticides as a possible solution was voted against by city council.

A brochure by the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, in partnership with some of Metro Vancouver’s municipalities, has been released in response to the European chafer beetle epidemic, explaining the basic facts of the pests as well as giving advice on prevention, monitoring, and biological or chemical control.