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Chafer grubs - the 15mm pests causing havoc for sports teams

PUBLISHED: 08:42 23 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:48 24 February 2020

The chafer grub. Photo: Submitted

The chafer grub. Photo: Submitted

They are only 15mm long and burrow underground but are causing major problems for sports teams.

Martin Matthews, chairman of Costessey Sports Club, on Longwater Lane Park where there was an infestation of chafer grubs in late 2019. Mr Matthews sits next to a patch of ground damaged by the grubs. Picture: Sophie WyllieMartin Matthews, chairman of Costessey Sports Club, on Longwater Lane Park where there was an infestation of chafer grubs in late 2019. Mr Matthews sits next to a patch of ground damaged by the grubs. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

Chafer grubs made football pitches on Longwater Lane Park in Costessey, home to Costessey Sports Club, unsafe and unusable last year and club chairman Martin Matthews is concerned it will get worse if irrigation through a borehole is not put in before the end of the season.

Chafer grubs are larvae of flying beetles and eat on grass roots during dry periods which then attract birds looking for the larvae, resulting in damage to the turf.

Mr Matthews said the grubs left its ground with deep holes and patches of bare earth from August 2019 until early this year, meaning matches had to delayed or played elsewhere.

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He said: "To lose the adult pitch, 9 v 9 pitch and 7 v 7 pitch was devastating for the club. The main concern is this is ongoing for lots of football clubs. Because of global warming with drier summers it is a perfect situation for chafer grubs. It is going to get worse. Irrigation is the answer but cost is the issue. We have got high hopes from Norfolk County FA. It needs to be done for this summer."

He praised the support of Costessey Town Council, which owns the land, in terms of working towards a funding solution to drill a borehole.

Alastair Kerridge, Costessey Sports Club treasurer, said: "We are in a position to play on Longwater Lane again but for months teams have struggled, having to share pitches on other sites. Pitch over-use and poor weather meant that fixtures have been called off and due to the commitment that our teams have it means the club will be faced with additional pitch hire expenses."

Hilary Elias, Costessey Town Council clerk, said: "Costessey Town Council is investigating options for dealing with chafer grub, all of which will need a large supply of water, so irrigation is essential."

A Norfolk County FA spokesman said: "There is no pesticide treatment that can be used to treat chafer bug infestations. Key to treating the issue at Longwater Lane is irrigation, of which a borehole will be an ample solution. Within our county there have been other football clubs that have been affected with chafer bug infestations, most notably Gayton United FC."

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