The Lincoln village of Branston has come under threat by a grass-eating grub. The cockchafer, also known as the June bug, feeds on the roots of the grass in its larvae stage, causing the turf to become limp.
In its adult form, the cockchafer only lives for about six weeks. During this short time, however, the females will lay up to 70 eggs underground. The grubs, which can remain in the soil for four years, eat the roots of the grass before pupating into adults.
Having been feasted on, Branston’s grass has become so weak that it can be pulled away with little effort.
“We could pull back the turf, as if we were opening a book,” said resident Pam Edwards.
“There on the surface of the earth were loads upon loads of these white grubs, which I had never seen before.”
Mrs Edwards, along with many other residents of the area, have uprooted or removed the grass altogether.
“My back garden has cost us in the region of about £1200 because we have had to have all the grass taken off…It’s now getting near to £1400 for the damage the grubs are doing.”
The cockchafer is common to the UK, found often throughout the country’s south. Paul Eady, a reader in behavioural ecology, finds it difficult to predict exactly why the grubs are causing trouble this year:
“We have had a mild winter, a very warm spring and a warm, mild summer. This is probably the ideal for these beetles to grow and reproduce.”
“I imagine, because they are root-feeding insects, that if you damage the roots then you damage the plant’s ability to take up water in a dry season [like this September]. It will impact on the lawn’s ability to cope with that stress.”
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