Japanese Beetles

paper_crane2(5a)February 24, 2013

Every year I have a major problem with japanese beetles. They cover my apple tree completely (five year old tree) and even though I pick them off all day long they still devour the poor thing. I would really like to avoid chemicals if possible. I've tried different things like making a spray out of garlic and chives but nothing seems to work. Does anyone have any ideas?

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Are those insect pests attacking other plants or just that Apple? What does a good, reliable soil test say about the soil that tree is growing in? Is that soil a good healthy soil with a pH in the range that Apple trees need? Getting the soil into a good healthy condition is not an overnight process and it can take 3 to 5 years but it is worth the time and energy.
The Japanese Beetles will attack a wide range of plants although those that are stressed are more likely to attract them. I've not found that repellant sprays are very effective in keeping these wee buggers away, although Neem Oil sprays do appear to help.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 6:40AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

JBs will attack highly susceptible plants....no matter what! Period. A healthy plant can recover faster, certainly. Neem is an anti-feedant and an IGR for those species that actually feed on the plants.

I've had pretty good luck spraying with insecticidal soap (more efficient and safer than a dish soap solution but same idea) right over the top of busily feeding beetles. They typically fall to the ground where they are easy to collect.

I'd go with the neem applied just as soon as you see the first sign of damage, no earlier.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 7:51AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you arent hanging lure bags in your yard ... are you??? .. you arent luring them to your tree i hope ...

one method to reduce population.. is to treat the lawn appropriately.. to cut down the larvae ... it might not help you this year.. but going forward it will .. maybe.. lol ...

i think Bt is an option.. others will have to advise in that regard ...

over the years.. i have given up on fruit to a great extent.. they really arent something the home gardener is going to succeed at ... without a lot of work and cost .... including time ... especially the bug issues ... when trying to be organic about it ... its not that it cant be done ..... its just a PIA ....

so one should start with asking oneself ... IS IT WORTH THE AGGRAVATION???


    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 8:17AM
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Thanks for responding!

The beetles do attack a lot of my other plants as well, they just seem to love my apple tree's leaves. I think that maybe my soil isn't that good, (I will do a soil test) and I'll be working on improving that.

Also, I don't have any sort of traps for the bugs set up (I didn't want to attract them), and the homemade traps I made in the past never worked.

I'll see what I can do about treating the lawn too.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:42PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Plants in the Rosacea family are a favorite feast of JBs. That includes your apple tree. If you try to remember this, it will give you more control in your garden.

Having said that, I've never found it too challenging to protect a couple of fruit trees organically.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 7:21PM
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"Keeping plants in good health helps them to better withstand and repair the damage caused by an insect or mite pest. There is some evidence that healthy plants are less likely to be infested by pests than plants in low vigor. The most effective and most important of all practices is to observe what is going on in the garden. Many serious disease or insect problems can be halted or slowed by the gardener who knows what to look for and regularly visits the garden."
From the article linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Healthy plants and insect pests

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 7:12AM
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I have tried many organic methods to control these little beasties including BT, ground up spray of the bugs, and soap spray. The only thing that works for me (and I only have to spray one time) is Bug Stop by Spectricide. I had it to deal with lAsian Lady Beetles and Box Elder Bugs in the fall so I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. Last summer was the first that they didn't completely decimate the leaves of my Paw Paw trees and my Rose of Sharon.

Yes, it isn't organic but at this point I don't care.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

One tool that has proved very helpful in repelling Japanese beetles and a very wide array of other pests is 'Surround ', kaolin clay product formulated in such a way that light coats can applied to coat leaves, fruits, and vegetables. It is widely used in agriculture and fruit orchards to improve fruit quality, prevent sun scald and heat stress, and repel certain insects.

Surround should be applied just as you first begin seeing the JBs. Two or three light coats are recommended. That application should be enough to get you through JB season, which isn't that long lived.

As always, read and follow the directions. This product is listed for use on organic crops and gardens. Do not spray on flowers, but leaves, vines, and fruit and veggies can benefit enormously.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 5:26AM
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"Gamma-Cyhalothrin", the active ingrediant is Bug Stop appears to be an extremely toxic material, not only to insects but to humans and about every other species on earth.
Pyrethrins are toxic enough but would probably be a better choice.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:41AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

That's not the active ingredient in 'Bug Stop', kimmsr. According to the labels, Tetramethrin and Cypermethrin are.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:52AM
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uncle_t(Z6 Ontario CAN)

Can't stand them. They bury themselves into the center of my John Davis roses, like some Lennon/Ono flower power bed-in. Japanese Beetles, yeah, yeah ,yeah.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:54PM
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hahaha, that made me laugh out loud!! Lennon/Ono bed in. hilarious!
Thanks for all the good advice about JB's!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 1:52PM
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Kimmsr, "Gamma-Cyhalothrin", is not listed on the ingredients label and it can safely be sprayed inside (animals/humans stay away till dry) so we spray the inside of the windows each fall to kill Asian Lady Beetles. Don't know what else would work for those and we get them by the thousands!

Anyway - one dose and the Japanese Beetles are gone. I also found that a spray of garlic/cayenne pepper and a little soap and oil works, but not nearly as well and the leaves often turn brown.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 4:55PM
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