Japanese Beetles were first identified around the turn of the century as being a problem pest in the United States. They probably arrived in our country by being transported in the root system of some plant. Once planted in our soil, this pest quickly took advantage of the luscious plants, shrubs and trees gardeners and homeowners like to grow.
JAPANESE BEETLE BIOLOGY
Today, this beetle emerges in early summer and will eat just about anything we like to grow around the home. The end result will hurt the tree or plant they are feeding on and may lead to it’s death if left untreated. This article will provide some basic information about Japanese Beetles and then explain the best methods and materials to use for controlling them. Since these pests are stubborn and persistent, we will present the quickest and most acute methods for control.
Japanese beetles live around one year. Eggs hatch in the fall, feed before winter and then overwinter by going deep into the soil below the frost line. In the spring, they will come back up to the top of the soil, pupate to adults and then emerge as the flying pest we all love to hate. Initially, the adults will seek just about any plant on which to feed. They love roses, birch trees, purple plums, crepe myrtle’s, dogwoods and cherry trees. However, no plant with succulent leaves is safe. This feeding will lead to massive destruction of leaves within a short period of time. The loss of leaves can be devastating to certain plants making them more vulnerable to fungus and drought. It is important to identify which plants the beetles prefer on your property and then make an effort to minimize the loss these plants suffer during the feeding time. Japanese beetles will feed for several weeks. After they have their full, they will mate and lay eggs. Females will lay 50-100 eggs in the grass and turf around your home. These eggs will emerge in late summer to early fall and begin the cycle again.
JAPANESE BEETLE TREATMENTS
Although most conventional methods of Japanese beetle control will instruct you to treat in the fall after the eggs hatch, the author will provide three methods of treatment which will get immediate results – regardless of the time of year. Since a complete Japanese Beetle control program needs to take place around the calendar, there is always something which needs to be done every spring, summer and fall. These methods will help to minimize plant loss and stop the further reproduction of local Japanese beetle populations.
JAPANESE BEETLE SPRAY
The first priority for any homeowner or gardener is to save the sensitive plants and flowers you own. As stated above, check your property and plants to see which ones are most likely to receive beetle activity. Once these plants have been identified, liquid treatments with a product called PERMETHRIN will prove to be very effective at killing feeding beetles. The residual of this product will keep new beetles away from the plant for up to a week forcing them to go elsewhere. It will provide quick knockdown as well so current populations will leave as you treat. To get the spray to work as well as it can, you will need to add some SPREADER STICKER to the tank mix. This is a material which enables the Permethrin to coat plant leaves, stems and a lot more of the plant than just what you spray. It basically allows your spray to “spread” out over treated surfaces really well – something which is very helpful since the adult beetles will many times be feeding on the underside of plant leaves and foliage. When treating, be sure to have your sprayer set with a wide spray pattern during the application. We have several SPRAYERS which will work for this job and the better the coverage, the better the results
Now if you have a small amount of plants to treat, you might consider CYONARA RTS. It comes in a handy “ready to spray” quart jug. Just hook it up to your hose and you can get right to work.
JAPANESE BEETLE DUST
If you have really sensitive plants like roses you may have to be careful spraying it weekly. Part of the components of any emulsifiable concentrate will have a tendency to injure plants since it uses some oil base to keep it in suspension. This oil, as small of an amount that is part of the finished gallon, can injure really sensitive plant leaves. To avoid this from happening, use the PERMETHRIN DUST. This is a dry formulation which will quickly kill as well as repel adults for up to a week. Most importantly, it won’t hurt the plants in any way. Apply it with one of our HAND DUSTERS and you will be able to get great coverage quickly
If you have a lot of plants to treat, get one of our DUSTIN MIZERS. This device will allow you to cover vast areas quickly. With the optional deflector connected – which you can see on the Dustin Mizer page – you can direct the dust right to the bottom side of plant foliage which is most important.
JAPANESE BEETLE CONTROL LIQUID SPRAYS
If you have a lot of plants to treat, dusting is not a practical option. We do have another spray which won’t hurt the plant in any way yet it will provide a really long residual. This concentrate is not a real Emulsifiable Liquid like the Permethrin listed above. Instead it is comprised of thousands of little capsules with the active ingredient stored away protected. There is no need for oils or other solvents which could inadvertently hurt your plant. It has no odor and when applied, it will not only last 3-6 weeks but it has a very unique “Stop Feed Action”. This happens as adults go to feed on treated foliage. They will actually be able to tell it has been treated and will either move on or eat a little bit and die. Most will move. DELTAMETHRIN is what you need should you be looking for the longest residual coupled with no plant damage and Stop Feed Action. Be sure to use it with our Spreader Sticker along with one of our Sprayers to enable you to get good coverage when treating.
ORGANIC JAPANESE BEETLE CONTROL
If you have Japanese Beetles in your garden and would like to spray something organic, consider using INSECTICIDAL SOAP. It’s gentle enough to use daily and it won’t damage the plant or the harvest. Soap will work pretty well on Japanese Beetles but it’s not the strongest organic choice. The latest organic product we have MULTI PURPOSE INSECT KILLER seems to work the best on this hard shelled insect. Both of these products are certified by NOP and approved for use for organic gardening so you can use them with confidence. Most importantly, they really do work well. The only drawback with the organic products is that they won’t provide a long term residual so expect to use the Soap several times as week in extreme cases; the Multi Purpose spray less often since it seems to last longer.
One other product we have that’s labeled for use in gardens and on fruits and vegetables is VEGETABLES PLUS. This concentrate is not organic; it’s a synthetic pyrethrin known as Permethrin, but it does work well and treatments will last the longest for use on any fruit or vegetable plant lasting upwards of two weeks.
JAPANESE BEETLE CONTROL TRAPS
The second priority is to lure away as many of the beetles as you can. This is done with BEETLE TRAPS. Don’t use them close to plants which the beetles are attracted to. Place traps as far away from your plant life as you can. In fact, if a neighbor wants to use traps, try to locate your traps as close to theirs as you can. The big problem with traps is they lure many beetles to your property which may have never come there in the first place. Japanese beetles are not the best flyers and tests show they will actually miss a trap by several yards about half the time they are following the scent from the trap. If your trap is placed away from plants you want to protect, the beetles that miss the trap will probably go to some wild plant or a neighbors yard and miss yours all together. If your trap is close to beneficial plants you want to protect, the beetles are likely to miss the trap and find their way to what you are trying to protect! The author has observed several homeowners who were so proud of all the beetles they had collected in their traps yet were amazed that so many were still on their roses! Don’t let this happen to you. Use traps to lure beetles away from plants; place them at your properties edge or in a wooded lot by wild food.
JAPANESE BEETLE GRUB CONTROL
The third priority deals with stopping the cycle. This is done by using a grub control product in the fall. One of the best is a product called MERIT. It is both easy to apply and lasts a long time. Apply it with one of our GRANULE SPREADERS to get equal coverage around the yard. Remember, the grubs will be feeding through late fall and as the ground frosts they will simply move deep. Merit will penetrate the soil, kill active adults before they move deep and then stay in the soil throughout the winter. The following spring the Merit will still be active when adults rise back up. Though the product is designed to last for the whole year, you will get much better results if you treat in the fall and then again in the spring. This insures you won’t have any break in the residual due to excessive water or other weather conditions.
Now that you have treated with the long lasting granules, don’t think you have done all you can. One of the best times to treat is in late spring – early summer as adults conclude their annual feeding frenzy. This is the time immediately after female beetles get their fill of food, mate and then lay eggs in the root systems of grass. The secret to timing this treatment right is to watch local populations of Japanese beetles and try to determine when they have finished feeding and are mating. After beetles emerge in the spring and begin to feed, at some point they will begin to mate. You will then be able to observe masses of beetles mating and some seemingly connected like a train forming links which may include several hundred beetles. Immediately after these mating orgies, females will land in turf areas to lay eggs. Expect to see this happen for one to two weeks during which time you will need to make one or two liquid treatments. Your treatment will serve two purposes.
JAPANESE BEETLE CONTROL GRANULES
First, it will kill any females which are attempting to lay eggs. Secondly, if you use CYFLUTHRIN for this application, the adult beetles will be able to detect it’s presence and stay away from treated turf. Apply the Cyfluthrin with one of our HOSE END SPRAYERS to get proper coverage. Even though the granules you should have applied are supposed to be active long enough to get the beetle larva when they hatch, spraying with Cyfluthrin insures you will be able to “nip them in the bud” just in case you don’t have enough chemical left in the soil to provide adequate protection. Although it is not likely that you will be able to stop local populations from growing, you will be able to control the ones trying to use your grass as their nest. Since plants on your property are most vulnerable to beetles developing immediately around them, keeping populations down in your turf will prove helpful in reducing attacks in the spring.
Japanese beetles can cause massive damage to plants around the home when left to eat as they want. To get them under control, you can spray plants you want to protect with Permethrin or Deltamethrin along with some Spreader Sticker. Apply the long lasting Merit Granules in the fall and spring to stop developing grubs and be sure to spray with some Cyfluthrin in the spring/summer over your turf so no females try to lay eggs there.