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Chafer Grubs

Chafer Grub is a serious Lawn Disease


If you suspect you have a chafer problem too you should give us a call quickly.

I do not wish to alarm you, these are not life threatening, just lawn threatening.

Do you have a chafer problem?
If your lawn is looking green and healthy without any dead patches you probably do not have a problem.

If there are sparse patches that have occurred since last year, you may have them.

If you have had a lot of birds pecking in the lawn then you probably do have them.

Damage caused by birds searching for the grubs

What do they do?
They eat the roots of the grass plant.

What do they look like?
In the grub stage the look like a large cream coloured maggot with three pairs of legs and an amber coloured head, but right now they have gone to the beetle stage and they are a green/brown colour.

Lawn damaged by birds searching for gubs

From May through to July the chafer beetles are copulating in the shrubs and then they will be laying the eggs in the turf to start the cycle again.

How do we get rid of them?
We use a pesticide which is ideally put down before the eggs hatch which could be in June.

Can I treat them myself?
You can try treating them with nematodes with a varying amount of success or there is an amateur insecticide available called “Pravado Lawn Grub Killer” (Pravado sold in the EU no longer contains the ingredient to kill chafer grubs 2014). There is lots of good info and pictures on the RHS website.

All you need to know about Chafer Grub and how to stop them ruining the lawn:

We will discuss various methods to control Chafer Grubs and the problems of each of the methods.

The Chafer grub is the caterpillar stage of the chafer beetle and would not normally bother us except it’s very fond of eating the roots off our turf grasses. One or two chafer grubs are quite normal in a lawn and are nothing to worry about. Occasionally though we get an infestation and this is where the problems start, these blighters not only eat the roots from our grasses they are a very attractive food source to birds as well as foxes and badgers. So sometimes you notice the secondary problem of animals feasting on the grubs before you know there is a chafer problem.

Although most literature on these grubs put the life cycle at one year we feel that they can live in the soil for up to three years. They emerge from the grub stage into beetles usually in May.

You may notice them flying low a few centimetres above the grass, colours from brown to green.

They mate above ground and the female lays the eggs back in the turf. It’s reckoned that the eggs hatch in a couple of weeks and the small grubs start to feed on the lawn. 

Video of Chafer Beetle infestation South Cambridgeshire

How to break the cycle:

There are a number of measures that are used against the chafer but none are “sure fire”.


The only pesticide which is permitted against chafer grubs is “Merrit Turf” which is only effective to kill the small grub stage in June to July. It is not cheap and conditions have to be right.  It must be dry when applied and ideally rained on soon after to wash it in.
Be aware that these grubs have a life cycle of up to three years and you are only able to effectively kill the juveniles, so you will have to repeat the treatment each year until you are sure that they are all killed off. 


Another method is to apply nematodes which feed on the larvae. These can only be purchased during the late spring season and has variable results perhaps this is a solution for the keen amateur who is prepared to keep the nematodes in the fridge.

Chafer Pheromone Trap

I consider this is the is a “must try” as its very cheap and will at least reduce the population of the male beetles. These are best purchased on line. Make sure the one you buy is green in colour and has no yellow parts on it or it will attract more bees than chafers and every bee counts. You only really need to hang one trap and that should attract the chafer beetles within 100 metres.

Cover the lawn with a tarpaulin

This is a method used by green keepers before pesticide control were available. The method is to flood the soil in the evening and then cover with a tarpaulin till morning. Then remove the tarpaulin and the chafer should be on the surface ready for a tasty breakfast for the birds.

To sum up:

If you suspect chafers at all get yourself a Chafer Trap in spring. This will be supplied with a liquid pheromone lure which last about six weeks. Hang this at about half a meter above the ground or as directed on instructions.

A professional lawn care operator will be able to apply a pesticide but the timing has to be right.

Repeat the following years until you are sure the infestation is over.

Then keep placing a new lure in the trap each year to keep any return problems to the minimum.

What can be done to repair the damage?

The area will have to be re seeded or re turfed to repair the damage. But don’t rush out to re turf the area just after the first infestation has been treated as there will be probably plenty more grubs in the soil ready to cause havoc again.

What is the cost to have a pesticide Treatment?

To treat 100 sqm of lawn costs £50.00

To treat 200 sqm of lawn costs £90.00

To Treat 400 sqm of lawn costs £120.00

Each 200 sqm thereafter costs and extra £60.00 to treat.



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     With apologies to Will Shakespeare, Tom Jones and others! 

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