Bug Week–Japanese Beetles

You, know, if these darn things weren’t so destructive, I think we’d all be celebrating them for their beauty.  Because I’m sorry to say, that from the time I was a child, I’ve found japanese beetles downright gorgeous!  One of my distinct memories as a child is finding them on roses (red, I believe) in our backyard.  And I just thought they were beautiful.

But my Dad didn’t share the sentiment–he was handpicking them and dropping them into kerosene (an “almost” organic gardener.  At least he wasn’t dusting the bushes with some toxic chemicals with a child nearby!)

I hunted high and low in my own yard to find my own beetle to photograph–because believe it or not, I have seen one or two this year–but they were not cooperative.  So I’ll have to resort to Wikipedia again to provide the image for me (and be grateful I have so few beetles to photograph!):

File:Popillia japonica.jpg

[Image from Wikipedia]

But look at that thing–coppery and metallic green–really, if it weren’t eating holes in every plant in sight, wouldn’t it be a thing of beauty?

But sadly, it’s that nasty habit of eating holes in every plant in sight–and it’s really not terribly discriminating in what it eats.  It likes annuals, perennials, herbs and even the foliage of trees.  What’s a gardener to do?

And as if that isn’t bad enough, when it’s done munching, it lays eggs, that turn into grubs that may lay waste to your lawn.  Now that’s a vicious bug!

Well, if there are a manageable number, I’d suggest doing a similar thing to what dear old Dad used to do–minus the kerosene of course.  Hand picking is a very satisfying way of ridding yourself of these pesky things.  In years when my population soars beyond the single digits (which I must say doesn’t happen too often) I have always resorted to this method.

These guys are quite sluggish in the morning or the evening.  Nothing like taking your frustrations out after a hard day at work than by knocking the little buggers into a cup half filled with water and some dish soap.

This year one of my readers informed me that frogs love to eat them–so if I do find some, I’ll just knock them into a cup of water (minus the soap) to stun them, then dump them into the pond for Freddy.

I can’t say I’ve ever had to do more than this hand-picking and it’s not for lack of growing plants they love.  I’ve got lots of roses as you’ll see next week, basil, geraniums, even weeping cherries.  I’m not sure why they avoid the yard–perhaps the birds get the grubs so the beetles never get a chance to grow up.  Maybe they make tasty bird food–wouldn’t that be a lovely thing?  Now if only I could get them to eat the wasps and hornets.

3 thoughts on “Bug Week–Japanese Beetles

  1. Donna July 28, 2011 / 9:04 am

    I am inundated with them and usually we have large numbers in my area but I never thought of the frogs in the pond. I will get busy knocking them into a bucket and feeding the frogs..thx

  2. planthoarder March 6, 2012 / 6:32 pm

    Come August I’m drowning in them, so I return the favor and drown them right back. I think I get so many because, while there’s plenty of grass, I’ve got the only garden with rose and malva family plants, since I’m surrounded by farm fields and they’re not that fond of corn or soybeans.

  3. gardendaze March 6, 2012 / 7:06 pm

    Yes, you certainly have the plants that they like, and then some nice lawn for the laarva to burrow into. I’ve always gotten a certain satisfaction out of the drowning thing–but not everyone feels the way we do obviously! And last year I did feed a few to the frog. He was very happy!

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