July/August Beetle Invasion

daffodil33October 29, 2013

Hi All, I am a 2nd year gardener, I guess my gardening gene was dormant until my late ..ies.

My garden turned 1 this past summer. But unfortunately the garden was invaded by small reddish beetles (not sure if they are Japanese), and they pretty much ate everything except for the hydrangeas. I do have a lot of grubs in the soil.

Any advise for next year/spring/summer, on how I can possibly prevent this from happening again?

Thanks so much.

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Here's what showed up on Google when I searched on red lily beetle: Lilioceris lilii.

I gave up growing all but daylilies a few years ago due to the scourge these brought to my garden beds and haven't seen many of them since. I'm willing to part with plants that attract them simply to eliminate them from my perennial beds. I'm a 60th-year gardener and can't be bothered with most plants that attract unwelcome guests. There are just so many others that perform beautifully without unpleasant side effects.

There are grubs, voles and other subterranean predators where I am that have munched on various perennials but none as devastating as the red devils. It's a less-than-happy aspect of gardening that I've chosen to work around as best I can.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Red Lily Beetle

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 7:29AM
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Welcome daffodil33! Unfortunately, gardening does come with pests which can often be frustrating.

The red lily beetle arrives in my garden way before Japanese beetles and is a bright tomato red on top and black on the underside. It and its disgusting looking larvae pretty much only eat lilies and Fritillaria, a lily relative, so while you may have them, I don't think that they are your main problem.

There is a coppery colored beetle called the Asiatic beetle or Asiatic garden beetle (Maladera castanea) which I think is what you are describing. It is almost the same size as Japanese beetles which are iridescent black. I also get a third beetle, the rose chafer, which is longer and tan and black. All three arrive in my garden in early July, give or take a couple of weeks.

To work on best control, you want a two pronged attack, on both the adults and the larvae. I don't use artificial insecticides (too much possibility of damage to groundwater, bees and other beneficial insects, or people and pets), so I won't give you any suggestions for those. If you have veggies that you want to protect, you can cover them with spun-bond row cover, which will let in light and rain but keep out insects. It would kind of defeat the purpose of having flowers, however, since you can't see through it. The adults feed at night, so you can go out after dark with a flashlight and a container of water with a few drops of dish soap (I find a quart yogurt container, half filled, is just the right size.) Hold the container under the beetles and knock them into the container so they drown. Traps, such as boards laid down for them to hide under during the day, can be "harvested" daily by picking up the board and scraping beetles off it into the soapy water and scooping up any beetles on the ground.

For the larvae, keeping your lawn and garden as dry as possible helps since they live in turf and are more successful when the soil is damp. Beneficial nematodes (a microscopic worm) can be spread on the lawn and garden and will kill beetle larvae but not harm pets or people. They do need adequate moisture to work, so it is often suggested to prewater and then be sure to follow directions on watering after you have used them. Larvae controls are more effective when the soil is warm enough but the grubs are still small, so it's probably too late for this fall, but you will want to get to work on this in the spring before the larvae get too large for controls to be as effective.

Here is a link that might be useful: pest beetle ID (grubs and adult photos)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 8:38AM
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Thanks garden weed and nhbabs. Interesting cause I did a lot of research on the web and google but was not able to identify the beetle.

And nhbabs nailed it, it is the damn maladera castanea!!! Now that I have it identified and thanks again to nhbabs know how to fight this menace, I am prepared for this July/August.

It hurts soo much to see the plants you love so much completely eaten to the bare stem.

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:14PM
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Hi Daffodil, and welcome to the frustrating world of gardening - and to the forum.

I've had problems with all the scarab beetles: Japanese, Oriental and Asiatic Garden Beetles. The Orientals are tan with brown markings (not exactly stripes, but close). The worst of these is the Japanese, because (I think) it's the only one that sends out a signal to its close friends and neighbors when it finds something good to eat.

I've had many fewer JBs since using milky spore on my lawn - this year my Montauk daisies were actually pretty for the first time, and my climbing roses had good foliage right through the summer.

My luck with nematodes has been dismal, although I've mainly tried them as a control for black vine weevils, not beetles. Milky spore is fairly easy to use by comparison - it does take a season or two to really lower the population of JBs though.

One other thing, though - for otherwise healthy plants, these pests are mainly a cosmetic problem. If they really defoliate a plant, you may want to consider whether the plant was actually in decline to begin with. Yes, they can potentially wipe out a seedling, but for even something that's been planted out from a 6 pack, it's unusual for them to actually kill a plant. Some less visible pest, like a slug, might be wreaking havoc and go unnoticed - with the beetles taking the rap.

At least, that's been my experience - and it's another reason to think twice before trying pesticides, in my opinion.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:34PM
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DtD has a point in that often the most obvious critter gets the rap for damage created by several pests. Going out at night with a flashlight may well find other critters. For instance, early in the season until midsummer, cutworms are a real problem for me, cutting off main stems when plants are young, but then climbing stems and stripping leaves later in the season. Slugs are a problem for many folks, though not for me in my current garden. And those various beetles listed by Dtd and Gardenweed do a lot of munching as well. Some folks have troubles with furry critters such as rabbits, deer, voles (the curse of my gardening existence) or woodchucks.

The longer you garden, the better handle you will have on the various critters that dine on your plants and the various types of damage each cause.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 10:06AM
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