As summer heats up, the battle of the Japanese beetles begins.
These nasty insects feed on a wide variety of plants (about 300 different species) and usually begin their appearance in early summer. Watch for them especially on your vegetable plants. Many landscape plants also are magnets for these destructive pests.
Early morning or late evening are the best times for handpicking them; that’s when they are less active. Fill a pail with soapy water, shake your plants, and the beetles will fall into the pail and drown. If this method is unpleasant, consider organic spray controls such as Neem oil or insecticidal soap that will kill beetles on contact.
Neem oil is an organic insecticide derived from Neem trees. In addition to killing the beetles on contact, it acts as an anti-feed, making the plant sprayed with Neem a less tasty treat for future beetle attack. Japanese beetle traps work but must be located a distance away from plants since they include an attractant to lure them into the trap. If your yard is small or you can’t find a location far away enough, the traps will act more like an invitation to a large beetle party. They are effective if located on the perimeter of a large property. For vegetable crops, you also can consider floating row covers.
A large population of beetles means you have grubs, the larvae of the beetle. These grubs live in the lawn. Consider applying a lawn insecticide in early fall; this can reduce the grub population and therefore the beetle population for next season.
Stay ahead of Japanese beetles and don’t let your garden be their garden party.
Rosanne Loparco is a master…
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