The Chafer Threat – Questions and Answers

Q : What are Chafer grubs?

A : They are the larvae of Chafer beetles. The grubs live in the soil and feed on plant roots of all types, but they are particularly fond of the grass roots of lawns.

Q : I’ve often seen lots of small beetles flying around my garden. Could they be Chafer beetles?

A : During the months of May & June, it is very likely that they are Chafer beetles, which are quite easy to identify. Chafer beetles (which are also sometimes called ‘Maybugs’), are approximately ⅜” (1cm) long, with copper coloured wings and either a black or metallic green coloured head. Chafer beetles don’t fly very well and tend to hover about 18” (45cm) above the surface of the lawn. During these months they will mate and then lay their eggs into the turf. The beetles then die off and it’s easy to think that the problem has gone away, but it hasn’t, because they have left their eggs behind. The eggs hatch out after a couple of weeks or so into Chafer grubs, which quickly burrow down into the lawn and start to feed on the roots.

Q : What damage can they do?

A : The beetles themselves don’t do any damage. It’s the grubs that hatch out from the eggs left behind by the beetles that are the problem. By living in the turf, feeding on the roots and destroying them, the grubs effectively kill the lawn from within. Without roots the grass plant cannot survive. Within a short time a previously pristine lawn can be ruined.

Q : When does this damage start to be seen?

A : Usually in the late summer. The grubs will have been in the lawn since June, but the damage they do doesn’t usually start to show until about September. Usually, the first sign of problems are areas of the lawn developing yellowing patches. On examination the turf is found to be loose in these areas and easily pulled up to reveal the soil beneath. If the soil is disturbed, the grubs will be found 1-2” (2.5 - 5cm) below the surface.

Q : What do they look like?

A : Chafer grubs are very distinctive. They are white or cream coloured and are approximately ¾” (2cm) long, with light brown heads and three pairs of legs at the head end. Another big giveaway is that when disturbed, they curl up into a ‘letter C’ shape. A serious infestation can yield up to 20 grubs in a square metre of turf.

Q : I have seen birds pecking at these areas on my lawn. Is this anything to do with Chafer grubs?

A : Almost certainly yes. Birds, particularly members of the crow family (magpies, ravens, etc.), love to feed on the grubs and will pull up the loose turf to get at them. Other predators, such as foxes and hedgehogs, will also dig for them. This secondary damage is often worse than that caused by the grubs.

Q : What can I do to counter this threat to my lawn?

A : Without doubt, prevention, rather than cure, is the answer. If you see the beetles in your garden there is a very good chance you’ll end up with the grubs in your lawn unless a suitable treatment is applied. If a professional pesticide is applied during May or June it will eliminate the newly born grubs before they have had chance to cause any damage.

Q : I have previously used Provado Lawn Grub Killer on my lawn with good results, but I can’t find it in the garden centres any more. Why is this?

A : Provado Lawn Grub Killer has been banned by the European Union and is therefore no longer available. There were concerns over the product’s active ingredient, Imidacloprid, and its possible effect on bees. Provado Lawn Grub Killer was the only pesticide product available to the home gardener to counter the Chafer threat. The UK government voted against a ban, but was overruled.

Q : So, if there is no longer a d.i.y. solution, how can my lawn be protected against the Chafer threat?

A : Four Seasons Lawn Care Ltd. hold the necessary Certificates of Competence to apply the professional pesticide which will stop the grubs in their tracks, and prevent them from destroying your lawn. One application of the professional pesticide will effectively inoculate your lawn against the Chafer threat for twelve months.

Q : How can I find out more information?

A : Free information and advice is available by contacting Four Seasons Lawn Care Ltd. on 01623 402509, or by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,or you can find us on Facebook.

Q : What if I need a quotation for an application of the Chafer treatment on my lawn?

A : Again, if you call Four Seasons Lawn Care Ltd. on 01623 402509, or drop us an email, we will make an appointment to visit you, survey your lawn and provide you with a written price quotation to treat your lawn. We’ll also answer any questions you may have and the survey, price quotation, advice and information are all free of charge and with absolutely no obligation of any kind on your part.