Chafer Grub the current scourge of Horse Racing

This afternoon’s meeting at Salisbury has been abandoned after the track was found to be unfit for racing due to what appears to be chafer grub damage.

Chafer grubs had already forced the abandonment of Epsom’s meeting on this coming Thursday (13th). So what are these little critters? After a quick Google I found the answer on the RHS website.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society – and they should know - Chafer Crubs are the soil-dwelling larvae of Chafer Beetles. Depending on the species of Chafer they either feed on decaying plant material or plant roots and love lawns – or it appears racetracks.

The two types that can be a problem are the Garden Chafer, Phyllopertha Horticola, and the Welsh Chafer, Hoplia Philanthus; despite the name, this little bug is not confined to Wales.

Chafer Grubs are to be found in the soil under the loose turf. They have fat white bodies and are curved in a C shape. They have light brown heads, with three pairs of legs at the head end and if straightened out, can be up to 18mm, almost ¾in, in length. There are currently apparently no chemical controls for Chafer Grubs and the nematode Heterorhabditis Megidis is commonly used as a biological control. The nematode penetrates the grub and infects them with a bacterium which is fatal – all a bit gruesome.

So now you know.