Recognising activity early on is key to minimise damage, and save on costly repairs in the long run, but the tell-tale signs can easily be overlooked as Chafer grub damage often resembles drought stress symptoms.
Typically found in sandy soils, Chafer grubs feed upon the turf’s root system. This means the grass plant doesn’t receive enough water in drier conditions, in turn leading to the turf grass turning a straw colour and, ultimately, dying away.
Loose turf is another sure sign of Chafer damage. Chunks of turf grass can be literally lifted away because there is no root structure left to hold it in place. Wildlife activity, specifically rooks, starlings pecking at the turf, can also indicate Chafer activity; many birds and mammals lift the turf and dig holes to feed on the grubs.
Once the turf has been lifted, the grubs, which have a cream coloured body with three pairs of legs and a brown head, are easy to spot. They are usually most prominent while feeding on the turf’s root systems when the ground temperature rises in early spring and through the summer.
Ultimately, Chafer grubs can cause several problems for courses and pitches. The damage can seriously effect playability such as ball bounce and roll. It may also have an effect on the players themselves, especially in contact sports such as football or rugby when the damaged turf may not provide adequate traction.
Avoiding a Chafer grub problem isn’t easy, but it’s best to try to hold back on irrigation when the Chafer grubs are laying their eggs (late-spring) because, in dry conditions, the eggs can desiccate and become unviable, reducing the amount of egg hatch that occurs.
If the turf does show signs of Chafer activity, it’s important to weigh up the damage the grubs are causing with the need to control, says Bayer’s Technical Manager Dr Colin Mumford.
“Merit® Turf (imidacloprid) is currently the only approved insecticide that will successfully control chafer grubs in the amenity sector,” adds Colin.
“The product works in two ways, firstly by direct contact with the grub, and secondly, which is the main control method, systemically, so is taken up by the grass plant, whereby the grubs feed on the roots and ingest the active ingredient.”
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MERIT® TURF contains 5g/kg IMIDACLOPRID. USE PLANT PROTECTION PRODUCTS SAFELY. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND PRODUCT INFORMATION BEFORE USE. PAY ATTENTION TO THE RISK INDICATIONS AND FOLLOW THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ON THE LABEL. TRIPLE RINSE CONTAINERS AT THE TIME OF USE, PUNCTURE AND INVERT TO DRY (MAPP 12415) (PCS 02896)