We are in that time of year again where Japanese beetles come into our gardens and landscapes with an appetite that would put most teenagers to shame.
Adult Japanese beetles eat almost everything in their path, leaving skeletonized leaves in their wake. Because of the numbers at which they emerge, the damage they cause is very noticeable, but it typically does not cause permanent damage to the plant.
The adult stage only lasts four to eight weeks during the summer. During the rest of the year, the insect lives underground as the immature larva or white grub. The grubs feed on the roots of your lawns during the latter part of the summer, and spend the winter deep in the soil.
After the soil warms in the spring, the grubs come back to the root zone and feed some more. They then pupate and emerge as the adult beetles to feed and mate.
There are many options for control of the adults. During the early part of the season you can pick them off with your hands. This may help to avoid attracting other beetles to your area.
Keep a jar of soapy water with you as you pick them from your plants. Typically, you can just brush them off into the jar because they will usually drop down before they try to fly.
Chemical control is sometimes an option you have to take. Carbaryl (Sevin) is labeled for control of adult beetles. Follow the label directions for the rate and frequency of application. During the thick part of the emergence, repeated applications may be needed to maintain control.
Also, think about treating your lawn in the late spring to kill the grub form of the beetle. Water the lawn before and after the application of the chemical to ensure a successful treatment.
Trapping is not recommended as a control method. Typically traps only attract the beetles to your yard. You may be able to capture a half-gallon of beetles from the traps, but you also may have brought in another gallon or two of beetles to your garden.
Good luck in treating for these hungry beetles, and hopefully they will not make a buffet out of your gardens.
Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.