Downing’s Gardens and Grounds team, under the direction of new Head Gardener Jack Sharp, have installed three decoy birds around the Domus.  The decoy birds are being used to tackle a destructive infestation of chafer grubs in the College’s lawns by scaring off the birds and animals which further damage the grass as they rip the turf to feed on the grubs.

The considerable damage to the fine lawns in the Quad has been caused by the chafer grubs and their predators in recent weeks.  No chemical control is currently available to fight the chafer grubs, and it is now too cold for biological control using nematodes.  This is why the decoy birds are vital to the gardening team’s efforts to prevent further damage being wreaked on our lawns.  The gardening team are also implementing a more effective lawn maintenance schedule to improve the quality of the lawns to prevent further infestations in years to come.

Sadly, this problem is not confined to the magnificent grounds at Downing; currently several other Cambridge colleges are experiencing similar infestations.  Let’s hope our Downing decoy birds do their job!

For more information on chafer grubs see the Royal Horticultural Society website.

Published 13 October 2017.