Beetle planet

It’s Chafer Beetle season again, and birds, raccoons and skunks all over Vancouver couldn’t be happier or more stuffed full of sweet, juicy white beetle babies.

But the people with lawns that have been ripped to shreds by an unholy feeding frenzy of forest creatures with beaks as sure as drill bits and claws as deadly as razors are unhappy, very unhappy, and at wit’s end. This includes people at the City of Vancouver who care for many green spaces, including Stanley Park, our pride and joy, voted Best Park in the World by Trip Advisor in 2014. (Not best lawn, mind you, which is a good thing, because right now, some of the lawn looks like it was ravaged by an army of rototillers on Bath Salts or something and we might not have won the prize if the voters had seen the destruction.)Once there was no Chafer Beetle season. It started in New Westminster in 2001 – and the buggers came from somewhere else before then, probably Back East. They’ve adapted very well to their new home – as have many Easterners – and now they’ve crossed Burrard Inlet and laid their nefarious eggs on lawns in North and West Vancouver. (No, not the Easterners.) (Yes, if the larvae survive the birds and raccoons, they grow up to have wings. Terrifying.)Today, lawns across the Lower Mainland cry out for nematodes, a microscopic organism that attacks the larvae, 50 million of which can be purchased for $79.99 a packet. Two packets, or 100 million heterorhabditis bacteriophora, are required for 1,400 sq. ft. of ailing lawn. (How on earth did they count them?) Strict watering rules apply thereafter. But everyone knows there’s no real cure. Oiseau2And the raccoons, sharpening their viciously effective claws, and the birds, with their deadly drills, are out in the dark in the forest, doing a little dance of joy.

story © Dianna Carr         images © Francis Tremblay