Rose Chafer Infestation, what to do?

valgor(4b, WI)June 22, 2013

I have zillions of these destructive buggers on my apple trees. Only thing I have found that is supposed to kill them is Carbaryl, so I have applied Sevindust. Problem is that we are geting rain about every other day and most of it gets washed off. Of course the bugs don't mind the rain. I've got about 100 trees and can't take 2 hrs a day to squish all the bugs. Any ideas on a better control plan?

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If you're going to use Sevin, don't use the dust, use the liquid concentrate and add a spreader/sticker.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Very hard to control this pest. I had major infestations for years. until this year. I sprayed BT on the ground and it appears to have killed the grubs for this year's batch as well as other beetles.

In other years, when the adults were active, I found insecticidal soap was the only effective option. They are very resistant to any type of pesticide.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 10:17AM
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If your still out there, 100 apple tree's is a huge number to hand pick. The university of Michigan developed the white chafer trap that you may have heard about. Chafers seems to run in cycles and have NO Natural predator's. I would recommend calling the U.n Mich. ext service and asking about a IPM (integrated pest management) plan. You have a sizable investment there to protect. Surround is available from several sources. I use garden alive. There's also several products like "grub ex". Traps/surround/floating row cover dividers and grub ex followed by beneficial insects may help. I still would consult with my local extension service as well.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:31PM
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valgor(4b, WI)

So the second year of massive Rose Chafer infestation. This time around I was a little more prepared. The major strike was around June 20 so I spaced my spraying days to hit the trees on the 17th. I sprayed liquid sevin with a spreader sticker. Four days later and there are very few bugs on the trees. The ground all around is a different matter. It was like a living mass of beetle orgy mania. The little bastards got what they deserved, another shot of Sevin, applied directly to their little hornfest. Now their little carcasses are strewn across the carpet of my orchard like a crunchy layer of death.

patrick113, thanks for your advice. unfortunately I never did get around to checking into much of it. I don't think traps would work, if you could see the magnitude and multitude of this invasion you would be sickened. (well, they would work, but not enough I wouldn't think.) I still plan on talking to the UW-extension people, but I have a little more insight into this problem since a year ago this time, and hope my timely spray schedule coupled with advantageous weather will do the trick..

Capoman, I still would like to look into the pros and cons of BT. Problem is that my neighbors property directly adjoins my orchard, I will have to convince him of the necessity of an application as well. I had some left over Sevin in the sprayer the other night and asked if he would like me to spray some of his trees, he only has a few. He was glad to show me his trees, and even happier to have me spray them when he saw what the chafers were doing to them. His highbush blueberry was decimated, I am talking skeletonized leafs from top to bottom and so many chafers you could hardly see the branches. I think he may now be convinced of the necessity to dispatch this miserable vermin. Thanks for the advice guys!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 7:37AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


Have you had Japanese Beetles show up yet? I've had JBs for about 3 years now. First year just a few and then bam... I find them more destructive then chafers (which i have too). It never ends with pests here. PC were horrible this year. And of course Squirrels, birds, humans, aliens...

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 8:40AM
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Funny thing - now that we have JBs around here, I never see rose chafers.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:02AM
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valgor(4b, WI)

I occasionally see the JBs, but thankfully they don't seem to be very prolific around here. For some reason I don't see much of the PC either, but that will probably change when more of my trees come into bearing age. My biggest pests are the rose chafers by far, but of course we have apple maggot and some stinking little caterpillar that likes to roll my leaves and eat them from the inside out. It is a good thing mosquitos don't eat apple trees, because I can hardly walk outside without needing a transfusion this year.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:17PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

When i first put in trees in 2005...the first few years i never noticed PC...i'd say it took a few years, but the past 4 or 5 they've been thick. Not sure if just enough are surviving on missed fruit or if they have moved into the area after finding a little honey hole. I picked an Alderman plum yesterday that had at least 20 egg laying scars on it. The same tree...i found 3 PC in (they have got to be about done at this point). For how little fruit i have, the PC has been extremely bad this year. Chafers have been light again. My kids play with them (i squish them)...of course you find their orgies here and there (I'm good at breaking up that party...) ... Japanese Beetles were really thick a few years back..last year not too bad. One thing i've noticed with them is they seem very selective on their trees...they love my sweet cherries, but hardly touch the other trees (knock on wood). I'll be very interested in what this year brings because of the extremely cold winter/late spring.

One good way of watching when these pests come out is to follow growing degree days. There are lists out there that show when various pests emerge/etc.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:30PM
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valgor(4b, WI)

I haven't been overly excited by what the severe winter has brought so far. I have got a lot of winter damage on some trees, Parker and Patten pears, Asian pears all new growth died back on one, the other died off to the ground, got new shoots coming. LuckyJon apples and Sweet16 have some branches that started leafing out and then die back. New growth on some of my Wolf Rivers seems stunted and two Contender peaches are dead.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:27PM
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My JBs strongly prefer plums and cherries, the highest branches.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 5:52AM
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valgor(4b, WI)

The rose chafers are finally letting up. A lot of rain so I have had to put off spraying for a few extra days, and that gave them a chance to do some mild damage, but overall I think I did a good job of controlling them this year. This is the second year in a row they has been a huge invasion, I hope the population crashes soon.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 5:45PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Rose chafers have been very lite this year (i'm just north of LaCrosse). The kids pick them and play with them (torment) so that probably helps. They always seem to show up when the peonies just start to open their flowers... I haven't even looked in a few days if any are out there. I did notice some leaf damage on some pluots/cherries, but nothing to write home about..with this heat/humidity/constant rainfall, growth is just insane. Years back I had huge infestations of them, but the past 2 or 3 years i've been lucky>? not sure. You can trap them easily (white trapes/lures), but not sure it does much. Another option you have..especially now that the eggs are in the ground, is to put down grub killer (maybe wait a couple weeks until the eggs hatch/grow?)...i'd imagine that would get rid of all the local eggs.

Last year i had very little PC damage and this years its unbelievable. I have no apple crop because they put about 20 egg laying marks on each apple in what was a very tiny crop to begin with.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 6:56PM
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valgor(4b, WI)

I've decided I have too much ground to cover with any kind of grub killer...I would like to turn some chickens out into the orchard, that might help some, but I wouldn't be able to spray for anything if I did. Bugs fly anyways...

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 6:58PM
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I don't have fruit trees, hardly a garden (yet?) but read everything here on GW; I also had really bad experience this year with rose chafers (just moved to new location). Soil here is very sandy, and property has nothing but grass. This is my first experience with rose chafers - they totally decimated few potted plants/shrubs I have.
I read that they are poisonous to chickens; so keep your chickens away. Birds don't eat them either.
As I said, I only read that, but every site that I checked said same thing.
I didn't find any warning about that may be OK for chickens.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 7:40PM
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valgor(4b, WI)

that's interesting, thanks for the warning, I will look into it further, but it didn't kill my chickens when I gave them a few to try last week. The first time I had a problem with the rose chafers was on my wifes roses. I was carrying a bucket of water for something and stopped by the roses to squish a few. I forgot about the bucket of water, and the next morning I came out the surface was covered with the chafers (probably because they are busy screwing while they de-leaf and it is a big sight attractant). It worked great for a few years until I started planting my orchard. I think keeping it mowed has something to do with it, probably effects the soil and thusly where they lay their evil spawn. Now I don't have enough buckets :) and the invasion is to such an extent, I don't think it would help much.

I typically spray my trees with Sevin, as it contains Carbaryl that kills the chafers. I am worried about the overspray or contaminated bugs the chickens might eat. We were referring to the grubs that become the chafers, and the options for controlling them before they emerge.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 8:16PM
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valgor(4b, WI)

Yikes, glad I didn't put my chickens out in the orchard. That really sucks, my worst pest and the only nonchemical control I thought I had going for me.....guess that's why they are called pests

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 8:35PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I've also read that about chafers...they have some toxin in them and that is why birds stay away. Another thing I've found out is they lay grubs in woodchips too. I actually found a ton of them in some shaded woodchips in the past. I'll also come across the grubs in my veggie garden, but not many.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 9:01PM
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if I may - here is what I learned:
*they really love sandy soil to lay their eggs in
*grubs feed on grass roots and roots of non-crop plants
*grubs travel deep (4' or more) for winter
*adults live approx. 6weeks
*cultivate soil few weeks after eggs were deposited into soil - some remaining eggs will be destroyed, young grubs too
*add organic matter
*cultivate in spring to destroy grubs before they emerge as adult beetles
*spray soil with beneficial nematodes (they feed on grubs-also other grubs like jap.beetles)
* treat with garden insecticide (contact or systemic; carbaryl is contact & residual 10-14 days; imidacloprid is systemic & residual up to 4weeks - there are few other)

franktank, I didn't know about wood chips...

more here:

...An extract was made from
crushed rose chafers and distilled water,
filtered, and fed to chickens in varying doses
with a medicine dropper and this resulted in
a great many deaths. Small chickens died in
a few hours after feeding, older chickens of
heavier weight when fed a small quantity of
the extract lived but showed signs of poison-
ing; large doses resulted in their deaths.
Mature hens did not die from the extract.

From 150 to 200 chickens have been fed
either with the rose chafers or with varying
strengths of the extract to determine the
weight of the chicken killed by a certain
amount of poison, also to determine the age
limit of the chickens killed.

The results may be summarized as follows:
15 to 20 rose chafers are sufficient to cause the
death of a chicken one week old. From 25 to
45 rose chafers are usually necessary to kill a
three-weeks-old chicken. While some nine-
weeks-old chickens have been killed by eating
rose chafers, only one ten-weeks-old chicken
was killed in these experiments. In the crop
of this chicken there were 96 undigested rose
chafers counted in post-mortem examinations.

The chickens feed upon the insects raven-
ously, being attracted by their sprawly ap-
pearance and usually within an hour after
eating they assume a dozing attitude, later
leg weakness shows and the chicken usually
dies within twenty-four hours of having eaten
these insects, or begins to improve after this


This post was edited by rina_ on Sat, Jun 28, 14 at 21:51

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 9:37PM
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valgor(4b, WI)

Indeed you may :) Thanks for the info, unfortunately I won't be tilling or plowing five acres of yard. I have four brothers and my parents who all live within a five mile radius or so, and they are having similar issues, to a lesser extent admittedly, but I'd be worried about a re-invasion even if I could eliminate it for a year or so. I will look into how expensive it will be to spray that much acreage.

I also read how they have an affinity for clover patches....arggggghh! maybe I wouldn't have planted my orchard rows with red and white dutch if I had known that, but it makes such a lush and pretty carpet....

I read that report also, I think it was from a 1916 article, but it seems to be on par with what all the other more recent studies are saying.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 9:17AM
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I didn't see the info about the clover - that is what I was hoping to do (white clover) instead of grass (or chamomile).

I am seriously considering the beneficial nematodes. But, it is also 5ac, and that is a lot. Not sure if anything would grow here unless I use nematodes+++, look what they did to few young trees I have in pots - completely defoliated, today I found some new leaves starting to grow...


This post was edited by rina_ on Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 2:23

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:21AM
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valgor(4b, WI)

I had a few trees last year that looked like that and tried to make a comeback but failed this year, hope you have better luck.

I think I weathered the storm pretty good this year, though I hit the trees every seven days with carbaryl for four sprays, now starting to lay off the spray and all seems well. I did have a few skeletonized leaves, but the trees looked good overall.

I would plant the clover anyways. I have really enjoyed seeing the deer and rabbits out my 10 x 5 ft picture window. My daughter also likes watching them. Of course she says "Daddy! Shoot'em n eat'em! Bang!" then she runs off to find her squirt gun :) That's my girl.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 6:00PM
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Mine are 'only' ornamental trees, and everything is still in pots (lots of perennials), since I moved this spring.
Luckily, in past few days, whatever was eaten by them is leafing out again - they really liked viburnums, ninebarks, and also Echinacea, these were damaged most. I am still trying to figure out what to do...hoping to get some fruit trees for spring.

I have some grapes started from cuttings, they were in different location so were not attacked, but I believe that's one of their favoured.

I have clover seeds, so most likely will plant it. There is some growing (white) by the barn, I am watching 2 'baby' bunnies lounging in it every day...they are cute (so far!!!)


    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:23PM
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