Monday, July 2, 2012

Japanese Beetles Totally Stink!

It is Japanese beetle time in Tennessee and I can tell you they've hit us like a plague of locusts. Last year was not really all that bad; which was nice but not normal. This year, though I hate to say it, is most normal. We are inundated with Japanese beetles. The roses are skeletons, we can't walk in the garden without experiences a slow large flying beetle trying to get in our hair or face. And let's not forget what most of the beetles are doing in the garden when they are not eating. Or perhaps they eat and mate at the same time?
I have always been a person against beetle traps. I have never ever purchased one for home use. I preferred, because I read it somewhere, to not attract the beetles to my garden with the pheromone baited traps that usually include a big yellow bag. Oh yes, I was smart that I was, until....
I got a Japanese beetle trap sent to me by Rescue, and I tell you it could not have come at a better time and is an EXCELLENT deterrent against the beetles. I was a bit skeptical about it helping out with getting rid of the terrible Japanese beetles but was I ever pleasantly surprised! 

The instructions said to set up at least 30 feet from desirable ornamentals. This trap only has a 30 foot reach with its scent attracting pheromones. I decided to put my trap near my perennial border but on the outskirts. Within one hour I saw the amount of Japanese beetles on my Knockout roses decrease by at least 80%. It was a very noticeable difference. Within that same hour the bottom of the large yellow bag (I would prefer a more subtle color but perhaps it is part of the bait and trap plan?) was two inches full with squirming, doomed, Japanese beetles.

Now, back to my original problem with thinking traps attracted Japanese beetles to my yard. No! I do not believe that at all. When the Japanese beetles hit they pretty much blanket the region where they are located. They find suitable food (think Knockout roses, crepe myrtles, 4 O' Clocks, trees in the prunus family, marigolds, night blooming jimsonweed, and butterfly bushes, amongst many others) and they mass themselves on these suitable food sources and devour the foods until there is nothing more to eat. I realized the beetles were already in my yard and not my neighbors because I had all their favorite foods! So, when I put up the trap and it began collecting all those beetles and lessened the amount of beetles on the roses (the roses were still skeletonized but by fewer insects) I couldn't help but to get happy because every single beetle that was trapped was one less beetle that could go on to mate and make more beetles to live to attack another day. I really felt like I was making a dent in the Japanese population and will soon be buying another trap since mine is nearly filled up. I suspect the trap held at least 5000-10,000 beetles and that is a LOT of beetles! I was able to empty my trap and reuse it but the sticky bug juice that comes with dead Japanese beetles was not so pleasant. There really is no way to avoid that mess when emptying the trap. I think a new trap will be in store soon so I don't have to empty the trap again. And boy, those those beetles smell terrible.
Right next to one of the decimated Knockout roses there is a cluster of liatris growing. Not one single Japanese beetle bothered with the liatris but the bees sure seemed to like it.
And finally, one new pest control type who came to us one hot evening in May. He is a stray though he most likely belonged to one of my neighbors; who don't seem to do well with pets at all. In the two years they have lived next door two of their dogs have passed and they have gone through at least a dozen dogs and cats! But that is another story. This cat will be taken care of and will not procreate more unwanted animals in the world. 

This boy is also Mr. Personality himself and is sweet sweet sweet! We adore him. Orkin kitty is having to adjust but adjust she will as this fella will not be swayed from his new, safe, secure home in Tiger Gardens. We have already had him neutered, treated for ticks, and vaccinated. He gets along so very well with the dogs but we are working on getting the big dogs to get along well with him. For some reason Smokey has no claws though. We do hope they grow back but he doesn't seem to have trouble getting around as need be. He can jump and climb with the best of them. And he surely sometimes needs to do so when the hose accidentally sprays him. He is a good hunter and is helping Orkin keep down the rodents and lizards....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. I'm glad the trap is working for you, Tina. I've heard that the traps actually attract more beetles to your garden, but your observations make sense, and it's certainly better than spraying with a pesticide. I've only seen a few Japanese beetles here so far--fingers crossed--but boy, do I hate those things!

    How wonderful of you to take in Mr. Kitty! If he did escape from the neighbors you mentioned, then he's found a much, much better home at Tiger Gardens.

  2. The first Japanese beetles that I've seen around here were turned into the Extension office a few weeks ago. I am sure hoping that they are a fluke, not the vanguard of a range expansion, but I'm probably hoping in vain.

    I'm so glad that your beetle trap worked so well. Did it attract any beetles besides the Japanese beetles?

    Smokey is absolutely gorgeous! It sounds like he's a real keeper...if the big dogs will agree to it!

    1. Awesome question Gaia Gardener. The traps are designed to catch not only Japanese beetles but other beetles but I can tell you in my experience I only saw the J. beetles around this trap and while I did not specifically look when I emptied it, I do not remember seeing any of the other beetles like June beetles (which are also in my lawn).

  3. Oh, I should perhaps explain that (luckily) the Japanese beetles were from the area, but NOT from my yard!

  4. Glad that you found some solutions. The Japanese beetles can be so destructive.

  5. I don't have any here in the city but know those who do. Thanks for the suggestion. They are really nasty bugs.

  6. Wow, you do have a J. Beetle issue girl! We have them but not that many. I can seem to keep them under control with the fingers at this point. But would have to resort to a stinky bag if that many. Yikes.....

    Smokey is beautiful and a great addition to Tiger Gardens. He and Orkin can critter ridder away!

  7. Tina--I hate this problem for you, but found all the information from your post very interesting! Do you have a thought on why the beetles are so bad this year? I don't remember if you had a mild winter like we did here in Texas--but b/c of our mild winter, we are having double problems on most pests. And now the grasshoppers have arrived....ugh!!

  8. Boy I wish birds ate the beetles...I may give these traps a try as I hate seeing the beetles

  9. Oh that's too bad but glad to hear that the traps are working well. The gardeners who have the same problem in Japan also use similar traps and they say that the traps have really worked!! Though it is not so destructive because the beetles have many natural predators here, some gardeners, especially who grow roses are really in trouble.

  10. I've seen a few beetles here already. I normally don't use the bags but I may get one of the beetles get any worse.

  11. I haven't seen any of those beetles around yet, but I will pay attention. A trap sounds like a good idea especially when they descend in droves like that. You new kitty is gorgeous. I had a similar one many years ago named Gandalf!

  12. Boy what a post. I use to have the bags when I was in N.C. I've only seen a couple here. But thank goodness we don't have the problem that you have. So sorry you are having such problems with them.
    I like Smokey. He sure is a cute Kittie. My new fur baby is doing fine. She's a Japanese Chin. So smart. Has to go with me to make sure the rabbit is ok. She is a lot of company even tho she's a house doggie.
    Have a wonderful day.

  13. I was of the same frame of mind with the Japanese Beetle traps....though your story has me thinking that if I get a large influx, I may go and buy one of those traps. They do a number on the plants for sure!!

  14. Those darn things are also terrible here this summer. I have read that it will be a bad summer for pests due to our very mild winter but so far it has been pretty good except for the j beetles and they are here in full force. I have not used my traps for the past 2 summers as I really did not need them but got them out now and I think they help. I have never had a full bag full bag, only about a quarter full and I thought that was bad!

  15. Did your vet think the cat had been declawed (by the odd neighbours)?

  16. I have the same trap!! And it's caught hundreds of the little stinkers! It's pretty gross, but better in the trap than on my roses!

  17. You hope his claws grow back? Do you not know about 'declawing' surgery? If his claws are gone, they are not going to grow back! Also, realize your outdoor cat is also killing songbirds which is really not good. Cats kill upwards of a billion birds a year and have caused the extinction of a number of species. Cats are an 'invasive species' and should not be allowed to run loose. Please consider making him a house cat or finding an indoor home for him.

  18. Thanks Betsy. I totally agree with you on cats being predators. It is a major problem for sure. I am not sure that making all cats indoor cats is the solution tho. Some cats just can't be indoor cats. I think that by reducing the wild cat population by spaying and neutering our cats all across the country would really be a big help. Smokes claws did grow back. He wasn't declawed but had worn his claws down to nothing while being on his own for so long.

  19. Thanks Betsy. I totally agree with you on cats being predators. It is a major problem for sure. I am not sure that making all cats indoor cats is the solution tho. Some cats just can't be indoor cats. I think that by reducing the wild cat population by spaying and neutering our cats all across the country would really be a big help. Smokes claws did grow back. He wasn't declawed but had worn his claws down to nothing while being on his own for so long.