The Beetle Battle - Controlling Japanese Beetles


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About 3 to 4 weeks after the last frost date, the battle of the beetles begins. The most damaging of all beetles is the Japanese beetle. They feed on a wide variety of plants (about 300 different species). Watch for them on your vegetable crops such as green beans and on ornamental plants like roses. When they first appear, handpick them off the leaves and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Early morning or late evening seem to be best for handpicking, as the beetles are least active at that time.

Japanese beetle traps are effective, but must be located a good distance away from crops and plants you want to protect, as the traps include an attractant to lure beetles into the trap. If you have a small yard, the traps are probably not advisable as they will be nothing more than an invitation to have a beetle party in your yard. You may end up attracting more beetles than you had before. However, when located at the perimeter of a large yard, they capture a lot of these pesky bugs and draw them away from the garden.

One of the best insecticides for Japanese beetles is Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew, an organic product which contains a natural bacterial toxin called spinosad. Neem oil, an organic natural insecticide derived from Neem trees, is another option. Neem oil products act as repellents and antifeedants, making the plant that is sprayed with Neem oil a less attractive to feeding Japanese beetles.

Covering crops with floating row covers while the beetles are active can also be an effective control. It excludes the beetles from plants, preventing damage.

PREVENTION – always worth a pound of cure! Applying a product called Milky Spore powder will help to reduce the number of Japanese beetles the next season. Only one application is necessary. The natural bacteria in this product kills the Japanese beetle larvae, white grubs that live in the soil and feed on grass roots. Apply the powder to your lawn, and after killing the initial grubs, the spores actually multiply in the soil, remaining viable for many years. Milky Spore Powder can be applied any time the soil is warm.

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