While most people's morning ritual involves a newspaper and a cup of coffee, Carol Carli is out every morning at nine with a bowl of soapy bleach water and dozens of hungry Japanese beetles.
"Since the third week of June we have been capturing three times a day," says Carli. "Morning noon and night, we hunt."
Carli first noticed the bugs in her rose garden about four years ago. Since then, they've spread throughout her garden. She says she and her husband capture about 50 Japanese beetles a day, knocking them off the plant into the bowl and drowning them in the soapy water.
Some of the Japanese beetles' favorite items are roses, linden trees and fruit plants. They chew holes through leaves. They'll devour a rose until the flower is brown, dried and dead.
"I toured other gardens in the year and I have seen some plants totally black from Japanese beetles," says Carli.
Some years the Japanese beetle population is low due to more severe winters. But this past winter has been mild in Minnesota, so more of the larvae stayed in the ground. And the pest is making its way across the northwest metro.
"This has been our second or third major season that we’ve seen the Japanese beetles," says Kim Gaida, store manager at Dundee Nursery in Plymouth. "They’ve come further and further west. They were in St. Paul mainly about two years ago."
Gaida says if you don't want to use the soap and water trick, you can use a variety of general insecticides, which go after a number of bugs, including the Japanese beetle. You can choose from a variety of sprays and powders you can apply directly to the plant or drenches you can apply to the soil for the plant to absorb through the roots.
You could also try pheromone traps, such as Beetle Bagger. You place the trap as far away as possible from the plant you want to protect so that they go to a different area of the yard. Fight the urge to buy too many pheromone traps because you may actually end up attracting Japanese beetles from other yards.
If you want to be proactive next year, you can apply a grub killer to your lawn in late April. But, keep in mind; it only works where you put it. If neighbors don't use a similar application, you could have Japanese beetles come into your yard from your neighbor's yard anyway.
Carol Carli stands by her homemade method. But, she says, you have to do it right.
"I know a lot of people knock ‘em off and think that works. They come right back up and they land back on the plant," she says. "You gotta kill them."
August 3, 2012