I saw the Japanese beetle pictured above on my walk this morning. Master Gardeners have been talking about seeing the beetles for at least two weeks now.
In my Minneapolis neighborhood, I’m not seeing many beetles. The last two years, this rose bush was covered in beetles. Today this was the only bug I could find, which made me wonder if they are just emerging or if this year’s population is at a cyclical low point.
Still stores are pushing all sorts of chemicals and tricks to kill Japanese beetles. This weekend at a big-box store I saw pesticide with KILLS JAPANESE BEETLES screaming from the front of the spray can. When I checked the ingredients on the internet, this product contains chemicals that also kill bees.
I haven’t used a pesticide in years and I won’t now. It’s clear that bees are in trouble and that means we are too, because we need pollinators. Too often, I think, we pull the chemical trigger when some bug upsets our idea of landscape perfection. For several years my climbing rose has been aggressively attacked by Japanese beetles, but it has always recovered. Unless trees or plants are being defoliated repeatedly, they will survive a beetle attack.
Japanese beetles are here, now we have to learn to live with them, just as we do with aphids and other pests.
Skip the traps — they may attract more bugs than they kill. Get revenge by patrolling your garden in the morning with a bucket of soapy water and flick the little devils to their death. Shake a grape vine or rose bush and stomp on the critters.
And if you feel you have to use a pesticide to control beetles, be careful. Spray early in the morning when the beetles are still dopey and easily targeted and bees tend to be inactive. Better yet, skip the chemicals.
Here’s some good information on Japanese beetles from University of Minnesota entomologist Jeff Hahn:
And have you seen many beetles this year?