Posts tagged soap

Japanese beetles are back

They’re back.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

I spotted the first Japanese beetle of the season yesterday on my raspberry bushes. I went to check one of my rose bushes and sure enough, there was another one, sucking the life out of a beautiful pink bud. Unfortunately, both got away.

The beauty of these copper-colored beetles belies the devastation they wreak. Adult Japanese beetles feed on more than 300 types of plants – turning leaves into lacy skeletons. As larva, the white c-shaped grubs feed on turf grass roots.

I’ve heard some people have luck with the Japanese beetle traps that can be found at garden centers. Others say the traps just lure more beetles into your yard. When I see just a couple of the bugs, I use the squish method, but as they become more numerous, I’ll try to control their numbers with soapy water.

Take a small bucket with water and dish detergent – any kind will probably work – and knock the beetles off the plants into the bucket. The beetles are more active at certain times of day and will fly off. Othertimes, they do a drop and roll, which is the best way to get them to fall into the bucket. Early evening seems to be the time when they are more sluggish and easier to catch that way. Obviously, if you are growing crops that the beetles are attacking, such as grapes (another favorite,) you’re going to need a different method of control. They also favor certain trees, but supposedly they don’t kill the trees as do pests like the emerald ash borer. I also wonder what they will ultimately do to the monarch butterfly population, as Japanese beetles devastate the monarch’s food source, milkweed.

Since they make my top 10 bad bugs list, the Japanese beetle and different control methods can be found in several posts on this blog. Just use the search box at the right to find more from city arborist Daniel Gibbons, master gardeners and others on this foreign invader.

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Beetle Battle II – Japanese beetle invasion

 

     I don’t hide my disdain for the Colorado potato beetles that annually devour my potato crop, but come July, I’m battling a much more formidable foe.

    The deceptively handsome, copper-colored Japanese beetles are out in force, their voracious appetites turning foliage to lace throughout my backyard.

    As obnoxious as they are, potato beetles are at least slower moving, and thus easier to squish than the wily Japanese beetle.

    Japanese beetles have perfected the art of stop, drop and roll, and if that fails, while I’m reaching in for the death kill, they simply fly away.

    Their favorite meals appear to be grapes, hollyhocks, roses and – where we do most of our battle – raspberry bushes.

    Armed with a single gardening glove and a container for whatever raspberries they haven’t devoured, I make a trek to the bushes every evening after work.

    Early evening seems to be the time when they are less likely to fly off and are an easier target for my gloved hand.

    When one or two started appearing on the bushes in late June, this “squish” technique seemed to work, but by now, several of the beetles gather on each leaf and it’s time to move on to bigger things.

    Because raspberry patches should be a place where you or a child can readily eat whatever’s ripe, as-is, I wouldn’t use any chemical means of control. The best approach has so far been to take a small bucket of soapy water  to the bushes – I use liquid dish soap – and knock the beetles into the water.

    Plain water doesn’t quite do the trick, as the beetles can survive, swimming around, for at least several days in it.

    I’ve heard bug experts say Japanese beetles usually don’t kill anything before they end their midsummer’s rampage, but I don’t know that they’ve seen the infestation problem that my backyard seems to have.  Once the beetles ravage their favorite plants, they will move on to almost any others available. They even suck the flowers of my fragrant milkweed to nothing.

    I’m envious of the parts of the country where these beetles have not yet reached. Even areas of Cedar Rapids seem immune to the problem. If you’ve had any luck with other methods of control, please let me know.

 

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