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The large white c-shaped grubs of some chafer beetles can damage the roots of plants. Some species cause serious damage to lawns (see chafer grubs in lawns). Most chafer grubs are not pests, these include some that feed on decomposing vegetable matter and can be useful composters.
Rose chafer beetle on hogweed flower
Where problem chafer species are present plants lack vigour and examination of plant roots will often show signs of being eaten. Large c-shaped grubs can also be found.
Damage to lawns can be more extensive, for more information see chafer grubs in lawns.
Remove larvae of pest species from soil as they are found. Cultivation of the ground can briefly expose the grubs to predators, such as birds, and make the ground less attractive as egg-laying areas.
You can buy pathogenic nematodes, usually Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, which attack the larvae by infecting them with a fatal bacterial disease. These microscopic animals can be watered into the lawn when the ground is moist and soil temperature range between 12-20ºC (55-68ºF). This biological control is available from some biological control suppliers and some garden centres. The ground around the edge of affected areas should be targeted to deal with larvae spreading out from infestation “hot spots”. The nematodes should be applied as soon as possible after purchase, following the suppliers’ instructions. It may be necessary to water the soil before and after application to ensure the soil is sufficiently moist for nematode activity and survival.
There are currently no pesticides available to home gardeners or the treatment of soil pests.
Biological pest control
Chafer grubs in lawns
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