asiatic garden beetle murder

lalalaJune 8, 2014

I discovered last June that the mysterious damage in my garden was from asiatic garden beetles feeding at night. This June I'm determined to do something! The only thing that came highly recommended on these boards is the flashlight and soapy water in a bucket technique. I did it tonight after seeing substantial number of beetles by the exterior light. I got maybe 40 or 50, but I could see and hear many more flying about, munching, eating my dogwood above my head, etc. I am willing to kill as many as I can by knocking them into my bucket, but does anyone have another trick? A passive trap of some sort? People were not too encouraging about nematodes last year. Thanks!

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daffodil33

Hi, I had the exact same problem last June. i posted on the board and got some helpful tips. I took action too late and my garden was wiped out to bare stem.
I am going to take action early this spring. The action I am going to take is the same as last Spring, SEVIN powder!
Sevin powder dusted on the plants will kill 'em all.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 11:34AM
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lalala

Thanks, daffodil. I should have specified that I'd prefer less-toxic solutions (like traps or organic options) since I have a small yard and two little kids who like to "help" me garden.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 11:38AM
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diggingthedirt

Sevin is highly toxic to bees, which are in such serious decline that they probably deserve to take precedence over ornamental plants, if only in the interest of human survival.

Many web sites suggest pyrethrin, rotenone, acephate or carbaryl for control of AGB, and I think the first two are quite safe, except that a) you'd probably want to find a pyrethrin that's not combined with piperonyl butoxide, and b) rotenone is non-selective. Either of them has to be used carefully; I don't know anything about acephate or carbaryl.

This is what gardens alive says; they sell a good pyrethrin product called Pyola but have some ideas about making the beetle hunt easier:

Remove any mulch temporarily and lay down wooden boards or old flat pieces of scrap wood on the soil. In the morning, go out with a five gallon bucket with a few inches of soapy water in the bottom and scrape the beetles (and any slugs cohabitating with them) into the soapy water.

And rig some long-term light traps outside the garden. Not too far away, but not in the center of your plantings either; no sense leading the pests to dinner. If you have a lamppost, wrap the area underneath the mantle in sticky paper and leave the light on at night for awhile.

I'd be surprised if the light trap didn't catch some good bugs, too, so you might be concerned about that. We find lots of AGBs in our pool, especially if we leave the underwater light on at night.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 12:57PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

If you are looking for a pheremone trap, you might try the product listed below. Pheremone traps work by using a sex-lure and they will attract male beetles from 100 feet away, so don't put them right next to the target plants. The recommendation is at least 30 feet away. Yes, you might be attracting beetles from your neighbor to the trap, but if you dump them all into the soapy water, that's a good thing.

In a search for a retail source, it showed them being sold at Lowes.

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Rescue: Japanese and Oriental beetle trap

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 8:26AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I've always done the soapy water routine. It's very easy and if you get at it right away and keep up with it consistently, it reduces the numbers and the potential for the next generation. I wear gardening gloves and make the rounds. I will say though that I don't have large amounts of these beetles, and I've read of other gardeners who have overwhelming numbers, and in that case, maybe one of those traps like Steve is suggesting would be a good alternative.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 8:41AM
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daffodil33

Digginginthedirt, in my case Devin works because I unfortunately only have carpenter bees, which are doing a number on the house. So it's like killing two pests with one poision. I don't have any honey bees unfortunately. I tried other options and none worked.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 9:12PM
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lalala

daffodil, Sevin probably won't kill carpenter bees unless you are treating their tunnels. Also, you almost certainly do have other kinds of bees in your garden (including honey bees) since they have a flying range of miles and are not just confined to your yard. Even though I hate beetles as much as you, you might consider a less toxic option like pyrethin as suggested above.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 1:25PM
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lalala

Thanks for the good suggestions, everyone. For now I've been just keeping up the soapy bucket routine. The beetles aren't too bad yet. If & when they get worse I'll consider other measures like the wooden boards or a light trap. I did look into pheremone traps, which are appealing, but my yard is tiny and I think it would be hard to get the trap far enough away from the yummy plants.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:19PM
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lalala

Just wanted to post an update. I think the hand picking is working. I got maybe 75 beetles each night the first few nights, and last night it was down to about 40. It's like weeding--strangely meditative. I am seeing full astilbe blossoms for the first time in a few years! My lady's mantle and heuchera are also much happier. Here's hoping I've put enough of a dent in the population that next year will be even easier!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:37AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Glad to hear that is working out so well, Lalala! I think you are on the right track and keep up the good work.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:06AM
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lalala

I have been keeping up the beetle hunting. I have been keeping up with them and my plants have way less damage than usual. Here is a tip I have figured out in case anyone else is crazy enough to be out in the garden with a flashlight at 11 PM like me. Since their defense mechanism is to drop off the plant into the soil when disturbed, they are very easy to catch in your soapy cup, but also easy to miss if you jostle the plant and knock them off by accident. I've found that if you hold a spoon under them and give them a tiny tap, they will drop right into the spoon and not move, which allows you to put them into the cup easily. If you miss and it drops to the ground, the spoon also makes it easy to scoop them up.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:36PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Lalala, you've given me a chuckle reading about your evening adventures. You sound like you are having way too much fun. LOL You are not the only crazy one. In a couple of past years, I was out there late at night with a flashlight looking for earwigs that were doing a huge amount of damage to my plants two years running. I found so many more bugs at that hour and about this time of year, I discovered the asiatic beetles out there too. I ended up buying myself one of those headlamps so I could use both hands. :-) My family had a good time teasing me about that one.

The good news is that I haven't had to do that since that two year period. I hope this effort you are making will pay off for you too. And isn't it nice to be out in the garden at that time of night?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 12:50AM
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diggingthedirt

I'm laughing, too, Lalala, wondering what your neighbors would think, if they happened to see you out in your garden with a cup and spoon in the middle of the night - a headlamp would make that even more fun.

The lengths we're willing to go to for our gardens must be pretty astonishing to non-gardeners - I occasionally see my neighbors peering at me with concern over the back fence.

Keep up the good work, and if you run out of AGBs, please feel free to come patrol my yard next, as I'm far too lazy to do it myself.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 11:18AM
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lalala

Houses are close together in my neighborhood, so I'm pretty sure the neighbors have seen me squatting and peering into the plants with my flashlight. It's like CSI: Garden out here.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:08PM
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KarenPA_6b

Please help me! The AGBs are attacking my apple tree that is 15ft in height. How do I go about knocking these beetles into my bucket of soapy water? There must be hundreds of them swarming around my apple tree.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:03PM
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lalala

kousa, I'm sorry to hear they're all over your apple tree! I don't think you can knock them into a bucket from the tree--that's too big a job. Maybe the pheremone traps suggested above would work for you. Or, if your property isn't large enough for a pheremone trap, you could try the wooden board or light trap ideas. Good luck and let us know what happens.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:33PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Since the beetles' natural instinct is to drop and stay still for several seconds, consider spreading a white sheet or two under your tree and knocking the beetles onto that. Then roll up the sheet and submerge the whole thing in a tub (a laundry tub, or animal watering trough, or kiddie wading pool or large plastic trug) of soapy water. Or pick up the corners, knock them all into the center, and then scoop them up and drop into your bucket.

Alternatively, use a pheromone trap like Steve suggested.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:27PM
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defrost49

I'm glad to read I'm not the only one doing bug patrol. I use a plastic folgers coffee container for potato beetles. I've just used plain water since most of what I'm seeing are potato beetle larvae (wingless). I usually make two trips around my small patch. The wide mouth is good for shaking a whole branch since there are tiny little larvae too.

nhbabs white sheet method sounds very good.

If let for a couple of days, the drowned larvae stink! I'm not sure how soon I can dump them out.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:24AM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

From everyone's experience, what plants do they go for most? I think I've been seeing these beetles on my pumpkin plants and around my roses (no surprise there). I guess I have a new garden project for a few days..

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:22PM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

From everyone's experience, what plants do they go for most? I think I've been seeing these beetles on my pumpkin plants and around my roses (no surprise there). I guess I have a new garden project for a few days..

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:24PM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

From everyone's experience, what plants do they go for most? I think I've been seeing these beetles on my pumpkin plants and around my roses (no surprise there). I guess I have a new garden project for a few days..

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:27PM
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lalala

in my yard they ate astilbe, heuchera, and lady's mantle, as well as the dogwood tree. They left most other things alone, including my roses (but I have a small yard without too much variety). They liked the flowers of astible and lady's mantle best of all, and now that those are past, I hardly have any beetles left in my garden.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:34PM
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KarenPA_6b

Thank you for all your recommendations. I am heading out to Lowes to get a white plastic sheet to spread under the apple tree and a flashight. Hopefully I can get some them tonight. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:39PM
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suska6184(4)

I'm surprised you have to go out after dark to find them. My neighbor is on bucket patrol quite successfully in mid afternoon.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:51PM
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lalala

Oriental (mottled gray/tan) and Japanese beetles (shiny) are often out during the day, but Asiatic beetles (cinnamon brown in color) are night feeders. The hide in the dirt or mulch during the day.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:55PM
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daffodil33

I apparently have both the AGBs and the OBs. Because of the large yard and the large infestation, I had to use sevin, but I got tired of putting on sevin, and gave up 10 days back. They finished off the mums and the heuchera, and almost all the black eyed susans, and asters, they also like eating the plum trees, lemon balm completely wiped out, mint half gone. I have a potted curry leaf tree (Muyyaya koneigi) which they also got to, now I have to bring it indoors at night. I have a number of lemon tree seedlings, which I don't dare put out. It's hopeless, my only hope is to plant plants that they don't like. So far the only ones they don't like are: hydrangea, blackberry, brown eyed Susan, and the evening primrose.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:45PM
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suska6184(4)

Oops, must be a regional thing. Saw this post under most recent, not realizing it's a NE forum. I'm in the Midwest and the coppery Japanese beetle is also referred to here as the Asian beetle, so I wondered why you all were out at night!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:49PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Another member of the club here! I am also on the prowl with a soapy bucket and flashlight and wonder what my neighbors must think!

The spoon trick is a nice idea but I've been manning up and just using my hands. A few do come to the porch light and land on the house. The fly swatter works on those.

I'm wondering if any of you use grubex on your lawn? I don't use any and I think that is why I have such a problem since nothing seems to eat them and the one nematode that has some effect isn't for sale.

In my yard, they eat roses, echinacea, basil, verbascum, strawberries, petunias, calibrachoa, coleus, dapppled willow, kalmia, mint, sage, the occasional canna - basically, I've found them at one point or another on many species of plants. But this year, I've learned they really love salvias, especially pineapple sage and salvia coccinea. I've planted a lot of it this year and it has helped preserved my roses and coneflowers. I am going to use them as a trap crop in the future.

This post was edited by loretta on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 1:39

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:38AM
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