During the Fall season in Vancouver, the crows gather in mobs and hang out in nearby trees. Walking down the block you will notice ruined lawns where crows were picking at chunks of grass that they lifted or simply tossed aside.
*A reader from Montgomery, Alabama mentioned that the term I used for a group of crows(Mob) in this article is actually called a “Murder of Crows”. It really makes my day when you readers connect with me. This reader shared a story and you could see it in the comments section of my Instagram post
Have you ever wondered why the crows do this?
Well, the crows didn’t decide one day that it would be cool to ruin someone’s lawn. In fact, they are actually picking at the grass for some food. Crows are predators and also scavengers by nature, they practically eat anything. The crows are very clever and they are looking for fresh larvae just beneath the surface of the grass. The actual grub that the crows are feasting on is called a European Chafer Beetle aka “June Bug”, because of the mass presence in June.
What’s a European Chafer Beetle?
The European Chafer Beetle originated from Western and Central Europe. This invasive insect is found underneath the grass close to the roots, where the larvae form of the beetle feasts on the roots.
The female European Chafer Beetle infects the soil by laying between 20-40 eggs in it. Imagine a handful of these beetles in the soil. The Fall season is usually when the larvae are found due to the moisture levels in the soil. The larvae’s main source of nutrients come from the roots of grass.
How did it end up in North America?
Just like a virus, it spreads through contact of some sort. Top soil companies transport loads of soil in their trucks. During the transportation process, it is common that a chafer beetle may have gotten into the soil on the back of a truck and have laid some eggs. The top soil is then packaged and sold to the masses, where it is distributed to neighbourhoods across the country and overseas.
There are other ways that this issue is spread. Debris on vehicles also plays a huge role in transporting contaminants(especially in the grooves of tires). Vehicles will always run over dirt and travel distances. Just like people who hitchhike through the dirt, they can cause a spread as well.
Therefore, it’s not just the companies that are responsible for contributing to this problem, mother nature also plays her part.
Let’s speed up the years of this cycle and now it appears in North America, infecting our lawns. That is basically how it got to North America and other parts of the world.
What role do the crows have in all of this?
As I mentioned earlier, crows eat almost anything. Crows are intelligent birds and have a good sense of smell with great vision. They are able to sense the grubs underneath the patch of grass they are standing on. The next thing you know, they are ripping patches of grass to get to their meal.
Crows are usually the ones that you see committing this action, but there are other animals that eat the Chafer Beetle larvae during the Fall. Raccoons, foxes, coyotes and skunks roam around the neighbourhoods in smaller numbers compared to the crows. Don’t be fooled! Just because you don’t see them around, these other animals have their fair share at tossing the turf.
How to fight this problem?
There are many ways to prevent or contain this problem. Solutions respectfully provided by UBC Botanical Garden Click Here—> UBC Botanical Garden
Imagine buying a new home in the Summer and when the Fall season arrives, crows start to massacre your fresh lawn. New home and UGLY grass…..it doesn’t look right. For many years I thought crows were just crazy birds that create a mess everywhere they go. I finally know the reason behind this mystery of ruined lawns during the Fall. I hope that this article fed you the basic knowledge on “Why Crows Ruin Lawns?”