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Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Japanese Beetle Menace

This year has been the worst year ever for us in our yard as the Japanese Beetles have attacked with numbers I have not seen before. 

Japanese Beetles are an iridescent copper and green colored beetle, about 1/2" long.  They probably came to the US in the early 1900s and were first discovered at a New Jersey nursery in 1915.  By 2006 the pest had not spread much past the Mississippi River, but the next few years saw infestations across the country.

They eat the leaves of your plants, leaving the skeletonized veins behind.  This kills the leaf and hinders its ability to perform photosynthesis (using the sun's energy to make sugar, energy for the plant).  They can also carry diseases from tree to tree.  I'm guessing that's how one of our peach trees was infected with peach leaf curl.

Our seaberries were almost completely stripped, cherry leaves were skeletonized and they even ate the developing seeds on our garden sorrel.  Most heartbreaking is the loss of our peaches.  We got most of the fruit last year before they discovered how tasty they were, but this year they went after them early.

The stories I have heard from nearby friends, or people that just ask me about them around town confirm we are not the only ones affected.  It has been a rough year.

Japanese Beetles feeding and breeding on some friends' apple tree

Significant Japanese Beetle feeding damage on this flowering crabapple tree
In years past, the soapy water in a bucket trick worked quite well.  This year however, there have been too many, too fast and many of our trees have matured with branches out of my reach.  I used a soap solution in a backpack sprayer with limited success.  Quite a few were killed but many were also not affected and remained.

I have been hesitant to use the traps as they have been known to attract more than you would have otherwise.  I have ordered a few for our backyard now.


Even better is biological prevention.  Both Milky Spore and certain nematodes are effective at controlling Japanese Beetle larvae and other grubs in the landscape.  These will only control the grubs in your yard, so wandering beetles can still come from other areas.  Again I have put off buying any of these since we haven't had any turf damage, thought we'll just get them from neighboring yards anyway and just out of negligence.  They will be applied this weekend!  You can get a smaller sized bag, but I ordered the larger bag below so that I can apply a couple times, as well as the Heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematodes.


With any luck, and neighborhood cooperation, we'll do much better next year!

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