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Under attack by Japanese Beetles

POSTED: August 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.

It's not a repeat of World War II, but many plants are under attack by Japanese beetles.  This insect was first found in the United States nearly 80 years ago. 


The Japanese beetle is a native to Japan (at least their name makes sense). 


Both as adults and as grubs (the larval stage), Japanese beetles are destructive plant pests. 


Adults feed on the foliage and fruits of several hundred species of fruit trees, ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, and fields and vegetable crops.  Adults leave behind skeletonized leaves and large, irregular holes in leaves. 


The grubs develop in the soil, feeding on the roots of various plants and grasses and often destroying turf in lawns, parks, golf courses and pastures.


The adult Japanese beetle is a little less than Ω inch long and has a shiny, metallic-green body and bronze-colored outer wings. 


It should be noted the June bug is much bigger and may also be seen flying over lawns.  The males usually are slightly smaller than the females. 


We can expect Japanese beetles from late June through July.


During the feeding period, females intermittently leave plants, burrow about 3 inches into the ground, usually into turf, and lay a few eggs.  This cycle is repeated until the female lays 40 to 60 eggs.


By midsummer, the eggs hatch, and the young grubs begin to feed on roots of grass.  Each grub is about an inch long when fully grown and lies in a curled position.  In late autumn, the grubs burrow 4 to 8 inches into the soil and remain inactive all winter.


In early spring, the grubs return to the turf and continue to feed on roots until late spring, when they change into pupae. 


In about two weeks, the pupae become adult beetles and emerge from the ground.


To control the Japanese beetle, several potential tactics are available.  Homeowners who decide to use chemical methods must read and follow label directions. 


The insecticide carbaryl (Sevin) gives good control of adult Japanese beetles on ornamentals, but again make sure the plant you are applying Sevin is listed on the label. 


As with any chemical, read and follow the Sevin label.


For years there have been Japanese beetle traps on the market.  Traps for adult beetles operate primarily with two chemical lures.  A combination of a pheromone and a floral lure attract both male and female adult beetles to the trap.  For this reason, if you use traps, place them away from the area you want to control.


In late summer, if you think you have a problem with Japanese beetle larval (white grubs), contact me for recommendations on their control by calling the Dawson County Extension Office at  (706) 265-2442.



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