Japanese Beetles are small bugs that love to eat plant leaves and roots. They can destroy a garden within days with a large infestation. They are 3/8 inches long and are metallic green with copper brown wings and white hairy tufts. As they defoliate plants they have preferences of the type of plants they like including roses, maple trees, elm trees, grape vines, wild plum and bird cherry. Fruit plants tend to be their favorite. They will even feed off of poison ivy leaves. There are some basic ways to try to maintain Japanese Beetles but it is extremely difficult to get rid of them completely and without any type of deterrent or insecticide that can destroy them you will need to use your own hands to help get rid of them.
Japanese Beetles prefer to congregate in large groups. They don’t travel in groups but they prefer to stay in groups. When a few find some tasty plants they will send out an odor for other adult beetles to come and mate with them to produce more and the cycle can continue for up to two months, depending on the season and weather.
Identifying a Japanese Beetle Problem
When your plants are defoliating each Spring you may want to check to see if there is an infestation of larvae in your soil. Dig up a few inches to see if you notice C shaped creamy white bodies with a tiny darkened head. The beetle goes through four stages and larvae is the second stage where they will feed on roots of plants and soil. Raccoons, rodents, and skunks like to feed off the beetles at this stage. They don’t kill all of them that have hatched and you will still have a Japanese Beetle problem if you don’t do something about it before they become adults. With severe issues with these insects you will need to use a grub control in the soil such as a pesticide that specifically targets grub control to prevent further infestations.
Japanese Beetle Stages of Life
The adult beetles will drop their eggs into the soil and within a few days they will hatch and become larvae that feeds off the roots and stays in the soil until they become pupae. In warm soil of 80 to 90 degrees they develop well and quickly into adults. Upon become adults they leave the soil and start feeding on plant leaves. They reach out to other adult beetles by sending out an odor to attract others to mate with them and the cycle continues. They could lay up to 50 eggs each Spring. May through June are the months you will most notice the Japanese Beetles.
Take notice to your plant leaves
Check your plant leaves to see if there are any beetles on them. You can easily pull them off and get rid of them, but be prepared, it is a lot of work with large infestations.
Take the next steps in getting rid of the Japanese Beetles
You have a few choices. First choice which is probably the most effective but the hardest work is removing the beetles by hand yourself. You will need to go to each plant and remove them. Wear gloves and have a bucket of soapy water and throw the beetles inside the bucket. Another choice is using nematode sponge that is sold in most garden centers. You will pour this into two quarts of water and connect to a sprayer and spray throughout your yard and garden. Keep the lawn wet for the next nine days for it to most effective. Use a pyrethrin insecticide and spray that around the yard as well. However pyrethrin could kill off any necessary bees and you want to make sure not to use it in their season.
Protect your plants with other methods
Use netting or mesh cloth to protect the plants from adult beetles coming into the area. This will not protect the plants from larvae already present. Beetles don’t like Magnolias or Lilac plants and you can use those around your garden as well to prevent other adults from flying in.
Take the following steps to help get rid of the Japanese Beetles
- Recognize you have an infestation
- Check the soil for larvae
- Use pesticide in the soil
- Pick the beetles off yourself
- Spray nematode or pyrethrin throughout your yard
- Take measure to help protect your yard from additional beetles coming around
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