European Chafer Beetle

The European Chafer beetle is an invasive insect pest. Its larvae feed on the roots of grasses, causing serious damage to lawns.

Adult Chafer beetles are tan or brown, measuring approximately 1.5cm (0.5in) long. The larvae (or grubs) have brown heads and white, C-shaped bodies, and they’re smaller than a dime.

How do I know if I have a Chafer beetle infestation?

Chafer beetle infestation is often most visible when raccoons, birds and other wildlife, eager to eat the grubs, begin digging up grasses and damaging turf.

Between January and March you can monitor your grass for grubs by cutting back a section of the turf and digging around in the dirt. If there are more than five grubs per section, you may want to consider Chafer beetle control.

Water Exemption Permits for Nematode Treatments

Nematodes are microscopic organisms that can control European Chafer beetles and are most effective when applied between late July and mid-August.

As your lawn must be watered thoroughly before and after a nematode application, you can apply for a Water Exemption Permit from the City to water outside of the watering regulations.

  • Permits are valid for three weeks (21 days) from the permit issue date and only apply to the lawn area treated with nematodes.
  • Watering of the treated lawn area with a permit is allowed outside of the permitted watering days and times, within the permit's validity period.
  • Permits must be displayed at the front of the property and visible from the curb and/or sidewalk.
  • Permits are free of charge and are eligible for a one-time renewal.
  • Applicants must show proof of nematode application (e.g. receipt for nematode purchase or invoice from the company providing the nematode treatment service).
  • Permits are allowed to continue during Stage 3 watering restrictions but will be void in Stage 4.

How to apply:



  • Cut three sides of a 30cm x 30cm square (about the length of a ruler) of grass to a depth of 5cm (about 2in).
  • Fold back the square patch and count the grubs in the soil by digging around.
  • Cut five more squares of sod/turf in different areas of your lawn, count the grubs in each square.
  • If more than 5 grubs per square are found, then chafer control may be necessary.


  • Apply nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora is recommended) in late July. Contact your local garden centre to pre-order nematodes ahead of time.
  • Nematodes can be an effective treatment – provided they are properly refrigerated, correctly applied and lawns are well-maintained before and during treatment, and thoroughly watered for about two weeks following application.
  • Water Exemption Permits must be obtained through the Engineering Department to prevent conflict with City watering restrictions.
  • Please note that most chemical insecticides are prohibited under the City’s Pesticide Use Control Bylaw. This includes products that are sold to treat the European Chafer Beetle such as Merit, Sevin, Bayer Advanced Grub Control, Wilson Grub Out, and Arena that contain the active ingredients imidacloprid, clothianidin, or carbaryl.


The best line of defense is proper lawn maintenance year round! This includes:

  • Aerating – best done in spring and fall to improve the health of lawns.
  • High mowing – keep grass between 6-8 cm high and leave lawn clippings on the lawn to act as mulch.

Other prevention tips include:

  • If you hire landscapers, ensure they properly clean their tools to avoid contamination.
  • If you purchase top soil, you may want to ask the vendor how they ensure their soil isn’t contaminated.
  • Consider alternative ground cover. There are a variety of ground cover plants that are tolerant to drought and Chafer beetle, and can be easy to maintain. Contact your local garden centre and check out our Invasive Plants page to find non-invasive plant species best suited to your property. The following are some ground cover examples that the City has planted for lawn alternative trials:
    • Green Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida)
    • Black Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida 'Platt's Black')
    • Creeping Pratia (Pratia pedunculata 'County Park')
    • Purple Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox ' Purple Carpet')
    • Red Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox 'Coccineus')
    • Goldmoss Stonecrop (Sedum acre 'Aurea')
    • Creeping Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)​

Calendar of Lawn Care

January – March

  • Look for damaged turf and monitor for grubs in cut sections of lawn.
  • If more than five grubs are found per section, consider treatment in the summer.


  • Aerate soil.
  • Consider pre-ordering a nematode device from your local garden centre.


  • Rake up or till under damaged turf.
  • If removing turf, dispose at Meadows Landscape Recycling Centre. Check website for rates and limits.
  • Apply top dressing of compost / topsoil to damaged areas.
  • Reseed with deep-rooted grass.
  • Water new turf daily.
  • Water established lawns 1-2 times per week.
  • Keep grass at least 6 cm high, leave clippings on the lawn


  • Water lawn 1-2 times per week.
  • Keep grass at least 6cm high.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn.


  • Apply nematode treatment using step-by-step instructions on package or online.
  • Thoroughly water lawn prior to and after application and for 2 weeks afterwards (​Water ​Exemption ​Permit required).


  • Water lawn 1-2 times per week.
  • Maintain a grass height of 6cm and leave clippings on the lawn.


  • Apply an organic fertilizer or a quality slow-release synthetic fertilizer.
  • Maintain a grass height of 6cm and leave clippings on the lawn.


  • Aerate soil.
  • Monitor for grubs in cut sections of lawn.
  • Cover up exposed soil to deter further damage from animals.


  • No maintenance needed at this time.

European Chafer Life Cycle

A European chafer completes its life cycle in one year:

April to Late June

  • Adult beetles emerge from the soil and fly to nearby deciduous (broad-leaved) trees to mate and feed. Once mated, females deposit eggs (up to 50 eggs per female) in the soil. During this time, beetles cause minimal damage to turf.

July- September

  • Eggs hatch in July, and the larvae (grubs) begin to feed on turf grass roots. Infected turf may feel “spongy” when stepped on due to the grubs tunnelling underneath. During this time, damages to turf can be seen by brown, dying patches of grass.

October - March

  • The grubs grow as they continue to feed in fall and winter. They remain within 5cm of the ground surface unless in freezing conditions when they burrow deeper into the soil. During this time, damage to turf is most serious. Birds, skunks, and other predators dig up grasses to feed on the mature grubs. The grubs continue to feed until they pupate (undergo metamorphosis) to become adult beetles in May.

Engineering and Public Works Customer Service
604-927-3500 (24 hours a day/7 days a week)