Saturday, June 13, 2009

Japanese Beetles

'Tis the season for Japanese beetles. I'd been planning on picking up a fresh bag and new bait for the trap, but haven't made the trip to the store yet. Earlier in the week I picked some irises, lilies, and yarrow from the garden for a table bouquet, after carefully checking for beetles and finding none. This morning, as I walked by the garden, I realized they were here. I'm not sure if I could smell the beetles, or if it was the sweet smell of the irises, but my senses were alerted. It didn't take more than a glance to see the invaders. I'd even made some pepper water last night, thinking I'd probably need it soon- good timing! I sprayed the flowers, and started picking off the infested blooms until I realized there were SO MANY. What to do?
I came inside, poured another cup of coffee, and got online. I read nothing about red pepper water (my own concoction that I've used with success in the vegetable garden) but I did find out that soap water can be an effective deterrent. I also found out that the traps are controversial. They do trap the beetles, but the pheromones actually attract beetles to the area so you might get more than just the resident beetles. I also read that the beetles are pretty much around all the time at different stages of their life cycle.
The adults come out early to mid-June around here and have particular preferences of flowers and plants. Females will leave the blooms and make their way down to the soil where they lay their eggs before returning to the blossoms and leaves where they munch away, skeletonizing the leaves, leaving only the veins. They repeat this through the summer and sometimes lay as many as 60 eggs or so. When the eggs hatch, they go through several instars (cycles), including a little white grub worm stage. These become more evident late summer and you can dig up small patches of sod to see if they're there. They stay in the soil all year, sometimes taking two years to complete their full life cycle depending on the climate conditions.
So, my garden has been soaped because I decided against getting the traps set up. There is a bacteria that is effective, but it is costly and takes 3-5 years to completely manage the Japanese beetle population- you never really get rid of them, only manage them. Their northern range runs through central Maine, so right now they aren't as bad as they are in other areas. A close inspection of my mom's irises this morning revealed none and she's just 5 miles from us. Diligent attention to the garden might keep them under some level of control this year, we hope.
In other news, we put in over 70 raspberry plants in the new berry garden! It's nice to have some time to spend around the yard this summer.

No comments: