City subsidy of nematodes goes against green principles

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


The City of New Westminster is providing residents with a $35 subsidy to keep their green lawns free of the European chafer grub

It's tax time again in New Westminster and throughout the Metro Vancouver region. I just received my tax bill again and I'm always blown away at how much it is. This year, our taxes were increased by about $200 bucks.

So you can imagine my anger when I read in the local paper that the City of New Westminster had set up a new subsidy program for home owners concerned about their manicured lawns being mangled by the European chafer grub. I'm not kidding, a subsidy program to ensure private residences can keep their lush lawns looking green all summer.

For those of you unfamiliar with the chafer grub, it's a nasty beetle that lives just under the surface of your lawn. It munches away on grass roots, gets really plump, then is eventually eaten by local skunks or crows. Unfortunately for homeowners, the animals dining out on chafers have to rip up your lawn to get to them. Once they're done, your lawn is left in tatters. In many cases, this can happen in a matter of hours while you're gone to work.

Along came a "solution" to the chafer beetle. It's called nematodes. These are microscopic critters that when poured over your lawn, bury down and kill the chafers. It's not a fool proof solution, but it can work if you are persistent and pour tonnes of this stuff on your lawn. Unfortunately, if your whole neighbourhood doesn't participate in the program, the chafers come right back within a couple of years.

At first, purchasing nematodes was rather difficult. The first case of chafer beetle only hit New Westminster a few years ago, and most people were simply dumbfounded.  They didn't know what was happening to their nice manicured lawns. That's why you didn't see nematodes for sale at your local garden shop.

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Today it is much easier to purchase nematodes now that the invasive beetle has moved throughout the Metro Vancouver area. They are now munching away on lawns as far west as Vancouver.

As many of my environmentalist friends tell me, lawns are bad. They say lawns serve absolutely no purpose and it use up scarce potable water. That's why they always make me feel guilty when they drop by and see my lush green lawn.

So if lawns are so bad, why has the City of New Westminster started up a taxpayer funded subsidy program to help private home-owners keep their lawn looking so green? Doesn't this go against every green principle we know? If lawns are getting munched up, shouldn't people simply plant something else?

Here is what a local advertisement paid for by the City of New Westminster had to say:

In an effort to assist New Westminster home owners with the European Chafer grub management, the City is providing a 50% discount on the purchase of the biological control (Nematodes) to a maximum purchase of 2 packages per home owner.

What the city going to subsidize my fertilizer and weed control as well? This subsidy program is simply ridiculous and indicative of a council that has completely lost touch with the average tax payer.

If the good residents of New Westminster want to have nice, green, chafer-grub free lawn, they should pay for it out of their own pocket. Why on Earth City Council thought that home-owners needed a chafer subsidy program is beyond me. Especially when green lawns are slowly being considered the environmental equivalent of the Exxon Valdez.

According to the Royal City Record:

Nematodes are normally $70 per package, but they're $35 plus taxes with the 50 per cent coupon.

So when I look back at my additional $200 in property taxes I paid this year, it is heart warming to know that some of that went to subsidize my neighbour's green lawn. Rest assured if New Westminster tax payers are funding this today, it could well be your city tomorrow.


I found a solution. Our lot is very narrow, and really the only lawn we have was the city's boulevard in front. Of course, that's where the damn chafer beetles lived.
So we did what I think most people should do. Rip up the city's boulevard and plant something else. I hated mowing their lawns anyway.
I know that sounds a bit aggressive, but in fact the city liked it. We planted roses out front and ended up with what looks like a larger front area. But secretly, it was the thrill of becoming the only household on the block that doesn't have crows and skunks ripping up the place.
But we did put out a water fountain to help keep the animals hydrated while they terrorize everyone else's beetles. . . . PETA will love us for that.
And we saved some nematodes. . .

Hey, I am currently writing an article about the Chafer Beetle, and trying to hear how the community feels about it. I have heard from so many homeowners who was pesticides, and subsidies for nematodes, but it is interesting to hear another voice.
ˆI would love to hear more about this, if you want to email me that would be great. I need more voices in my article.


I am open to responding to your request, however, you will need to provide me with your contact information by flipping me an email at

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