What is a chafer grub?

By | 08/12/2017
A chafer grub next to a 50p piece
An adult summer chafer beetle (amphimallon solstitiale)

An adult summer chafer beetle (amphimallon solstitiale) Photographer: Jakub Rom CC Image

A chafer grub is the larval stage of a chafer beetle. They are white C-shaped grubs with a brown head and 3 pairs of legs at the front of their body.

Chafer beetles are the common name for one of many species of Scarabaeidae flying beetles in the UK. The adults beetles emerge from their pupa in the ground in the spring. They mate and lay eggs and these eggs hatch into larvae in the soil after a couple of weeks. The larvae grow by eating the roots of plants and are the cause of damage to British lawns. Their life cycle is long and, in large numbers, they can become a pest to UK lawn owners.

Chafer grub species

In the UK there are six different species of chafer beetles whose larvae infect lawns;

In central Europe and the US there is also the European Chafer. This was native to continental Europe, but has now found its way over to North America where it is an invasive species.

Is the chafer grub a pest?

The chafer grub is a pest to all managed turf situations. Experts agree that they are the most difficult lawn pest to control in the UK.

Chafer Grub damage to a lawn

Chafer grub damage on a lawn

A few chafer grubs in a lawn may not be noticeable. If you are unfortunate enough to get a large infestation, they may kill patches of the grass suddenly. They do this by eating their way through to roots of the grass plants. This damage can look similar to drought stress.

If you are very unlucky, the grubs may be found by a larger animal looking for a meal. Rooks, crows, foxes and badgers will all happily pull a lawn apart to get at the tasty grubs.

Chafer grubs are found in all areas of the UK and on most soil types, although some areas do have localised epidemics (2016 in East Yorkshire).

Read these blog posts for more information on chafer grub identification and control.

Further Reading on Chafer Grubs

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