Why won't Vancouver respond to chafer beetle mess?

Post by Mike Klassen in


Chafer beetle damage in east Vancouver
Chafer beetle damage as seen in east Vancouver – click for larger

Vancouver's media are finally talking about the plague of grass burrowing larvae that raccoons, skunks and various birds love to munch on, and will rip your grass to get. Of course we're talking about the infestation of the European chafer beetle across the city. Friday's Courier cover story by Sandra Thomas, and other reporting by the Vancouver Sun is elevating this subject into the mainstream in Vancouver.

Despite the fact this matter has been discussed at length in New Westminster and Burnaby (who have been dealing with the beetles for years), the City of Vancouver is strangely silent on the subject. In fact, if you search the city's website, you'd be hard pressed to find more than a couple of dated reports on the subject going back a few years.

The City of Vancouver has many more important issues on its hands than lawns, but if there is one scourge that is making residential neighbourhoods look rather neglected in recent years, the chafer beetle is it. I began to notice the problem in Vancouver late in 2008 in the Killarney neighbourhood. The bugs have been making their way westward, and now can be seen all the way to UBC.

You've probably seen some of the remedies attempted by homeowners. The funniest solutions are stakes in the ground with strips of plastic tied to them, or even old CDs dangling from strings. Someone thought this might save the lawns, but it only adds to the shabby appearance of so many yards and boulevards.

What I've noticed on the East side is that the yards most affected are in households where English isn't spoken. The population of southeast Vancouver is predominantly Chinese, and many households are first generation Canadians who might not read publications like the Courier. For whatever reason, the explanation for what is ravaging their lawns has not made its way to many of these folks. All the more reason why the City or the Park Board should be trying harder to educate the public – and not only in English. Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Punjabi and Vietnamese translated information on how to deal with the chafer beetles would go a long way to improve the look of several Vancouver communities.

In fact, if 311 had been properly promoted to Vancouver in all languages (it is a multi-lingual service), maybe that would help to mitigate this problem. And excuse me for suggesting this, but I've heard Coun. Andrea Reimer and Vision supporters looking down their noses at lawns. Growing and maintaining grass, according to their view, is "inefficient" and "wasteful". I ripped out my front lawn last year not because it meets with approval of these folks, but because I like to garden and my lawn was overtaken by buttercup. That doesn't mean I expect my neighbours to do the same.

Sure, the chafer beetle mess will cause some folks to consider changing their lawn-growing habits, planting a garden or adding in a little moss or clover to deter the pests. But for the vast majority of us, those lush green lawns are valued as leisure space, or they just make your home look nicer. Until we all learn how to deal with them, the beetles will continue to make lawns on street after street in Vancouver's neighbourhoods look like a battle zone.

It would be nice if someone on city council took up the cause and asked if it would be possible to get the City to circulate info about nematodes (little worms that you must add to your lawn in late July), or tips on better lawn care practices to deter the critters. There are a few things that city governments really ought to be in the practice of, and one of those things is providing its citizens with resources to deal with pests.

While the folks at City Hall are focused on turning our backyards into farmyards, they're missing the stuff that really is important to most of us – such as keeping up the good appearance of our communities. Hopefully someone figures out that we should try to fight back against these bugs – as other cities have done – and soon.


Here's some useful info on how to battle the beetles from CityFarmer TV.

- post by Mike


Wait till this hits West Point Grey, the hills of Jerhico or the good burghers of Shaughnessy or more important .....
the beloved vegetable gardens of the "enlightened", then we will see some sort of action.

Meanwhile the poor peons in the million dollar cracks shacks on the East Side will keep on suffering in anonimity while tended lawn after lawn on street after street in many neighbourhoods are being destroyed.

I suspect if Counciller Reimer or Mayor Juiceman or the Publisher of the Province or the Sun had this happening to their yards and gardens it would be front page news with calls to action and all manner of well studied "Official Vision Approved" methods to remedy the problem.

Is it any wonder the clown show that passes for City Government and a newspaper continues to shed support and readers.

Here's a Vision friendly solution:

Perhaps we can have an official, humane $20,000 shelter for grubs, nematodes and assorted other unwanted invertebrates the decide to reside in our City. Hey it'll be chickenfeed..

Just sayin.............

The Thought of The Evening

"Deep, deep down I'm thinking, to me...this looks like a Vancouver Vermin inside job."

And for that, I have just the thing:

“Favorite joint in town...The Hole,
The one under the bush of Jasmine,
Locals know him by nickname...The Mole,
Most apposite PI for Vancouver Vermin.”

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

> What I've noticed on the East side is that the yards most affected are in households where English isn't spoken

And you've deduced this how, and using what sample size? What a load of racist crap.

Purely the writer's observations. Instead of me trying to defend against your baseless accusation, please read what I've said:

The problem of a pest ravaging neighbourhoods who may not be getting good information due to language or other barriers needs to have city officials to communicate with them better.

It is ludicrous to think that more ESL houses have been exposed to the Chaffer Beetle due to a language barrier. The Vancouver Park Board Integrated Pest Management Staff have been spreading the word about this coming menace for at least five years as it marched westward. Countless Open Houses, events, news releases and posting on web sites have gotten the word out. Unfortunately, most folks do not take note until the peril is knocking at their door. In general city boulevards that abut sidewalks and that are the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain, receive little fertilizer or water during dry spells setting up wonderful conditions for the beetle. Nature is just going to have to take its course, and it is brutal to observe but think what full bellies our urban wildlife will have because of it. Contact the Park Board for more information or visit their web site at vancouverparks.ca

Thanks for your note, Terri. Everyone has been getting blasted by the beetle, but I'm not so sure that the information barrage you describe has been reaching households. The remedies I describe (CDs, stakes with flags) are still being implemented by some. I know the city used to send out a bulletin each year with the tax bill, I don't recall getting any info delivered to us on the chafer beetle. I can't see how going to vancouverparks.ca, or attending open houses about the bugs (which I've never heard of before) will work when language is a barrier.

The city can do better outreach than it has, and it should make a special effort in other languages than English if it wants to battle the beetle. By comparison, look at the promotion of the H1N1 inoculations in all languages by the health authorities, which resulted in a large turnout in east Vancouver from all communities.

These chafer beetles don't bother a lot of tenants but home owners have a different opinion. Vancouver City Council has done nothing regarding Homelessness so why not add to the numbers and have homeless beetles too?

This is typical of the mayor - smile and enjoy the photo op but travel to Europe, Ottawa and who knows where else to see how they make coffee or what they charge for good hotels at taxpayers expense.

It's like an "Unholy Trinity" down there at City Hall:

Birds, bees and beetles!

(You thought I was going somewhere else with that comment, dintja?) ;-)

And if by uisng nematodes, we do manage to scare off these Chafer Beetles, will City Council decide it is necessary to build a shelter for them? I should hope so, they might make good chicken feed.

Time to put those Homeless Chickens to work eating beetles and fertilizing the grassy areas as they go.

[u]Social eggs for the homeless[/u]


Wow, must have been a slow news day. The city must be running pretty well if this is the biggest scandal you can manufacture. This is not the kind of insight I turn to City Caucus for.

It goes to show banning all chemicals has some negativity...there is a product that controls this but is banned both in Burn and Vancouver (I looked this up about 4 yrs ago) when doing research..IT originally started in New West; severalyears ago - supposedly from a pallet from a foreign port...and each year their lifecyle when flying they progressively move west and east from NW landing whereever they want (nothing to do with homeowners language?)
I agree with the ban on cosmetic weed control products (killex) but natural predators will not on their own be successful -these are IPM methods that often must be working together with many management techniques - inlcuding chemical.We are so hypocritical - banning these things but filling our grocery stores with products that are not only sprayed in foreign lands - but chemically ripened after being picked..kind of like all the coal we gladly sell out of delta port - yet have a carbon tax for our own people...(we are all on the same planet - same air etc ...there is no NEW Water....)
its just recirculated.....hmmmmmm

I work for a lawn company that provides Chafer Beetle treatment to all Vancouver residents. They saw the growing problem and have begun dealing with it. They are trying to educate the east side as well the the west side. Everyone's lawn should get treated, so that we can begin to prevent this for destroying our beautiful city. They made a video about the chafer beetle and treatment options. It's worth looking at.


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