Vancouver Parks Board launches new weapon in fight against hungry beetle

The Chafer beatle grubs have lured birds and other predators to rip up Vancouver lawns since 2001. Photo by Ten Minutes From Home on Flickr.

The Vancouver parks board hopes a microscopic champion will win the fight against a pest chewing through the city's grass boulevards, lawns and playing fields.

Starting this week, biologists will treat 31 sports fields with nematodes, microscopic roundworms that kill the grubs of the European chafer beetle.

The beetles were first discovered in lawns in New Westminster in 2001 and now infest grass through the region.

Eggs laid by the beetle develop into tiny grubs that grow as they feed on the roots of grasses.

Birds, skunks and other predators tear up the turf in search of the tasty morsels, causing damage the park board says has forced closure and restoration of two fields this season.

The board says the nematode application targets grubs when they are still very small, before larger predators begin ripping up the grass to reach them.

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