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I was wondering when customers would be coming into the garden center with evidence of damage to their plants from Japanese Beetles. This past week I had a couple of customers right here in North Chesterfield needing advice as to what to do to protect their plants – both of these customers live in the Founders Bridge subdivision.
So, this year, the Japanese Beetles are truly a “June bug.” The term June bug isn’t a scientifically assigned name. Instead, it’s a common name applied regionally to a variety of different beetle species. One common species is the Japanese Beetle (cotinis nitida). Our Japanese beetles have a green body that measures up to an inch long. It is not aggressive and will not bite. They are clumsy aviators.
Now that they are here, they begin eating some of our favorite plants such as roses and tomato plants. While they are out and about, they will eat and will mate and will lay eggs.
Your mission to eliminate their damage to the plants as much as possible while they are flying around and to reduce their population. The best choice is to use a JAPANESE BEETLE TRAP system. You want to set the trap away from all your plants in a remote area. The bait inside the trap lures the beetle away from the plants and traps them inside the beetle bag. Check the bags periodically and replace them when full. Keep in mind that Japanese beetles will be around for a few weeks. As gross as this may seem, because Japanese beetles are not aggressive and are slow, you can spend some time with the plants and handpick these insects and toss them into a plastic bag. In addition to the trap system and handpicking, you can resort to sprays such as the Bonide’s CAPTAIN JACK’S DEAD BUG BREW. Captain Jack’s is made with Spinosad, which is good for organic gardening and is not harmful to our beneficial insects when used correctly and at the right time of day.
While the beetles are flying around and mating, the female will lay eggs on plants. In August, these eggs will hatch into larvae that will move to the soil. This larvae stage of the Japanese beetle is the white grub worm. So, as STEP #2, in September, you want to apply a grub control product in order to kill as many of the white grub worms as possible before they move deep into our soil for the winter. There are many very good grub control products. My favorite is MILKY SPORE. Milky Spore is an environmentally friendly product. The grub worm will ingest the milky spore and die, and, at the same time will help multiple the amount of milky spore in the soil for even more control.
Sometime in February or early March, you will want to reapply your chosen grub control product. It is at this time that the white grub worm starts to surface and will eat on grassroots, thus damaging the turf.
From an educational angle here is the life cycle of the Japanese beetle which is important to know in conquering your battle with Japanese beetles:
Good luck and come see us for more information and for supplies.