Lincoln Square

Grub Infestation Damages Popular North Side Chicago Park

"It was a layer of bugs in the outfield," volunteer baseball coach Ron Fiesta said. "It was a pretty noticeable smell when you walked on to the fields."

NBC Universal, Inc.

Youth baseball and softball teams that compete at Welles Park in Lincoln Square are searching for new fields to finish their fall seasons due to an infestation of grubs at the park.

According to the Chicago Park District, large numbers of grubs recently emerged at Welles Park and Winnemac Park. The grubs eat the roots of plants and can quickly destroy large areas of turf.

Volunteer baseball coach Ron Fiesta said damage to the fields occurred over the course of several days.

"It was a layer of bugs in the outfield," Fiesta said. "It was a pretty noticeable smell when you walked on to the fields."

The park district said it has not determined the cause for the grub population surge.  The park district also said experts have confirmed that the infestation is the larval stage of the June beetle.

Christopher Dietrich, the Illinois State Entomologist, said beetles may have been drawn to the field to lay their eggs during the summer drought, especially if the grass was greener than other nearby areas.

The grubs were no longer visible at Welles Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Dietrich said the grub may have moved deeper into the soil and the ones that were on the surface could have been picked off by various predators, such as birds, raccoons or opossums.

Meanwhile, the park district said treatment will begin at Welles Park on Thursday, Oct. 28, and at Winnemac Park as soon as the weather permits the week of Nov. 1.

The park district said patrons will be asked to avoid the area 1 to 2 hours following treatment.

"The District will fertilize and seed the fields next week. At this point in the year, we will be ‘dormant seeding,’ which means we are not likely to see much germination until the soil is warm enough in the spring," said a park district spokesperson. "We will seed the field again in the spring as soon as weather allows. The field will remain closed until we have adequate root growth to withstand typical use from sports. Depending on weather conditions this fall spring, the fields will reopen for use between late May and late June. We will do our best to get the fields open for play as early as possible."

Fiesta told NBC 5 the Welles Park Parents Association is working with the park district to get access to other fields for teams to finish their fall seasons.

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