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The Battle with Beetles

Keep beetles at bay with these helpful tips.

Typically in this part of Massachusetts, adult beetles are expected to arise from the ground around the 4th of July. Well, they have arrived and are as hungry as ever. Emerging to feed and reproduce, these beetles are typically about a half an inch in length and have a shiny green color with bronze colored wings. They have been known to feed on over 200 different types of plants, but favorites include vegetables such as greens, lettuces, beans, eggplant, and peppers. They also have quite an appetite for roses, flowering shrubs, trees and just about anything with foliage.

The Facts and Taste Buds of the Beetle

Generally, the adult Japanese beetles are active for a period of about a month, during which they feed, mate, and lay eggs. When those eggs hatch, the larva become an entirely different problem. They feed on roots and have an especially healthy taste for grass roots. Later in summer, they prefer the soil. Unfortunately, their damage doesn’t end there. Hungry beetle larva are often responsible for “dead spots” in the lawn because they eat the base of the roots keeping grass from being able to get enough water.

While a single Japanese beetle won’t do enough damage to harm a plant, they often appear in great numbers, and given the right conditions, these little creatures can chew up much of the landscaping and gardens.

Rid The Garden of Beetles

Looking to get rid of beetles, or keep beetle populations in check? There are a number of good options from either natural or chemical sprays. Both these applications can help repel the beetles and keep them from dining on prize plants and vegetables.

Systemic grub controls can be added to a lawn to effectively treat the Japanese Beetle grubs before they damage the landscape. These will not only effectively prevent damage incurred from the beetles, but many other grubs and pests that can harm the lawn.

Remember that Japanese Beetles can do spoil any landscaping design in both their adult form and also as larva. So treating now can help limit damage and prevent future lawn damage.

One repellent option to steer away from is the beetle traps. While they are extremely effective at drawing beetles and may appear to have great results, Sam Bradford cautions otherwise.

“Beetle traps can bring in beetles from miles away, however, those same beetles may stop and make a quick lunch of your favorite rose bush," Bradford advises. "We don’t recommend drawing more beetles to the property. While it may lower the beetle population, it can often mean more damage instead of less.”

With these techniques and preventative measures, Beetles will only reside on the CD player and not in the garden.

Information for this article was contributed by . 781.862.3900, www.wilsonfarm.com, on Facebook.com/ShopWilsonFarm or Twitter: @WilsonFarm.

Jean Williams July 29, 2012 at 12:35 AM
A very pretty picture of a beetle, but it's not a Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica). This looks to me like the Milkweed Leaf beetle (Labidomera clivicollis). The Milkweed Leaf beetles feeds exclusively on species of milkweed, so it wouldn't be a problem for gardeners. It's one of our important native herbivorous insects that should be protected, not eradicated. Japanese beetles, on the other hand, are an invasive pest, although they don't seem to be as big a problem in our area as they were in the 70's and 80's.

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