Thursday, July 7, 2011

JULY 7, 2011

Pest Department:

Japanese Beetles-have arrived. These are the pretty green and gold bugs that eat EVERYTHING. Pick them off every day wherever you see them in the garden and smoosh them or drop them in a pail of soapy water. Morning is the easiest time to catch them because they don't move so fast when it is cool and the dew is still on their wings.  Lay a tarp or old sheet down under an affected plant, shake them off onto the ground, wrap them up and have a stomping party. Every day. 

I just came across another suggestion-spray them with soapy water (castile soap, not insecticidal soap). It doesn't kill them, but they can't fly (or eat, presumably). I don't know if this works, but it would make them easier to catch. I'll bring back my bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap and leave it in the shed. 

Rotenone is an organic pesticide that is often recommended for Japanese beetles. PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS. It also kills bees and other beneficial insects. Neem oil is an alternative organic repellant which does not harm humans or wildlife. It can be ordered online. I don't know of a local source. Birds are natural predators of the Japanese beetle, especially starlings, grackles, cardinals and catbirds. Invite them in. Other controls include parasitic wasps and milky spore disease. The wasps will find the beetles on their own if we give them a chance. (i.e., don't kill them). Milky spore is a long-term treatment (over several years). If any of you knows a source, let me know. We can begin treating our soil, where they overwinter. The final suggestion is to tolerate some minor damage. I know, these are really nasty bugs and can do big damage. But last year our invasion was relatively mild. Maybe with diligent picking we'll be lucky again. 

Potato Bugs-also need to be picked daily. Squash them or toss them into a pail of soapy water. Also watch for their eggs on the underside of leaves (gold clusters) and the larvae, which eat, eat, eat.

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