Thursday, August 4, 2011

Japanese Beetles: Get Over It

Hi there!

I don't think I do this often, but on this topic, I'm going to drag my soap box out and dust it off.

People - get over the Japanese beetles!

They're here to stay, they aren't as damaging as you think, and for Pete's sake stop poisoning the environment with Sevin and imidicloprid trying to get rid of them. If you're a grower or a farmer, it's different. You are growing plants as a saleable crop. As a homeowner, learn to accept a little damage.

We are winding down on Japanese beetle season. However, I still have many people wanting to know how to get rid of them. First, here's a roundup of links to the experts:
U of I Extension
The Morton Arboretum
Chicago Botanic Garden

What do I do in my yard? I pick them off and stomp on them, knock them into a container of soapy water, or just ignore them.  I don't have very many, so for the three weeks they're feeding, it's not that big a deal. For God's sake do not use beetle traps. They just attract all the beetles in the neighborhood so they can lay eggs in your lawn.

I have had stories from many people. I've had two ladies proudly proclaim that using Raid on all their flowers killed the beetles. Of course one of them then asked me why she's finding dead birds all over her yard.  Hmmmm... I've also had folks tell me that they removed plants because they couldn't handle the beetles eating them every year. In one case it was a ten foot high Harry Lauder Walking Stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'). Do you know how long it took for that plant to get that big and what a tremendous loss it is? Another fellow bought an old farmhouse and cut down the gigantic rose bush on the side of the house because it got eaten. That rose bush probably was a cutting from some pioneer's grandmother and we'll never know what precious heirloom plant was wantonly destroyed because someone couldn't deal. As you may notice, this practice sets my hair on fire.

Here's my favorite fun fact about this season: Plants (woody plants in particular) have stored enough resources by mid to late July to ensure that they will get through the winter into next spring. Any food production after this point is just gravy. Japanese beetles will not kill your plants unless they are already stressed by other factors.

So, please, lay off the poisons that kill the bees and just pick and squish. It's very therapeutic, I promise.

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