Beetle mania strikes in celebrated gardens

VISITORS to award-winning gardens can be reassured damage around stunning flower displays has not been caused by vandals.

Patches of soil in the once immaculate lawns of the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds are in fact due to larvae of the chafer beetle, which has been thriving due to ideal weather conditions.

The damage, which can be clearly seen around the flower displays in the main central area, has become most noticeable in the past week - just after a visit by the Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom judges.

Parks manager Damien Parker said: “It [the insect] is quite common, but just with the very hot and dry June and July it was really favourable conditions for them and they have just multiplied to an almost epidemic proportion in these particular areas this year.

“We are treating it. It seems to be actually better now than it was.”

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He added how the visible damage to the grass was more to do with birds and mammals digging away to get to the grubs.

“That’s why it has the appearance almost of vandalism,” he said.

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Mr Parker believed this was the worst infestation the gardens had ever seen.

A low toxic chemical is being used to kill the larvae, and damaged areas of grass will be reseeded.

“It is unfortunate, but we are now treating it and hopefully it will be resolved very quickly,” Mr Parker said.

Ken Blowers from Ipswich, who enjoys visiting the gardens, said he heard visitors saying vandals must have been damaging the grass when he was there on Wednesday .

He said it was a real shame to see the damaged lawns, adding “they are in a terrible state”.

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