Wednesday, July 4, 2018,
You draw back the curtains one morning to find your lawn has been ripped up. Probably sounds familiar if you arrived at this page via a google search.
We get lots of calls about lawn damage at this time of year with people blaming birds, cats, squirrels or moles. The actual culprit is likely to be foxes or in some areas badgers (or a combination of both) lawn damged by fox looking for chafer beetle larvae
The foxes are looking for the larvae of the Chafer Beetle which is a tasty source of protein (so I am informed – I haven't actually tried them myself). At this time of year the larvae are just below the surface of the grass getting ready to pupate and emerge as beetles around May or June.
Sometimes birds will take advantage of the ripped up turf to poke around. Crows and magpies are often to be found moving pieces of grass around which is why people think the damage has been caused by birds.
The damage tends to be caused in patches rather than the whole of he lawn and your neighbours may well be unaffected. Sometimes huge areas can be damaged. We recently dealt with a football pitch that had to be completely returfed at a cost of over £4000.
So what can I do ?
The two options are to stop the foxes or stop the Chafer beetles !
Stop the Foxes
Shooting or trapping foxes is a time consuming and expensive operation which has limited success. In urban areas the density of foxes is so great that as soon as one fox is removed another one will quickly move in to fill the void.
Proofing your garden against foxes can be a more viable option but not always possible. Foxes will dig under fences or climb over and their ability to find a way into a garden cannot be underestimated. Wire buried at least 18″ deep at the bottom of the fence can stop tunneling and adding trellis to the top of a 6ft fencing panel can deter all but the most determined fox.
Solar powered electric fence system
We have had success using non lethal electric fencing which uses a discreet single wire strand to carry a high voltage but low amperage current. This gives the fox a a quick “zap” which deters it from trying again. Having being “zapped”a few times myself I can see why. This type of fencing can also deter cats from entering your garden without harming them in any way.
Electric fencing isn't always possible to install due to overhanging shrubs and trees etc. Purchase & installation costs are fairly high but running costs are minimal using only a few pence of electricity per month and they are almost maintenance free. Solar powered or 12v battery options are available if no mains supply is available
Stop the Chafer Beetles
Up until the end of 2016 there was an insecticide that was only available to suitably trained professionals which provided a quick and effective solution to the chafer beetle larvae. As with most things that actually seem to work it was banned by the EU leaving no insecticide solution available.
The good news is that there is a natural biological control available. The bad news is that it can take up to three years to gain control.
Nematodes a long term solution not a quick fix
Pathogenic nematodes are naturally occurring organism's which attack the larvae by infecting them with a fatal bacterial disease. These microscopic animals can be watered into the lawn when the ground is moist and soil temperature range is between 12-20ºC . The turf around the edge of affected areas should be targeted to deal with larvae spreading out from infestation “hot spots”. The window of opportunity to apply nematodes is quite narrow and the instructions on the packets must be followed closely to ensure maximum benefit. Nematodes are time limited when purchased and must be treated as a fresh product and used within the specified time frame.
We provide courses of nematode treatments with the price dependent on the area to be treated. The price of nematodes seems to vary more than the value of the pound against the dollar so call us for advice and the latest prices.
Nematodes present no danger to anything else in your garden including your pets and children so you can safely continue to use your garden at all times.
For advice and information Call us on 0121 364 7000 www.e-pestcontrol.co.uk
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