Meet the beetles. And say goodbye to them!

The Plant Man column for publication week of 07/09/06 - 07/15/06 (713 words) ###
If you are having problems with certain kinds of beetles who are uninvited guests in your landscape, you'll want to read these two recent e-mails from readers.
QUESTION: "I am hoping that you may be able to help me with a problem I am seeing this year with my lily plants. I have many lilies around my home in New England of different varieties. Many of these are being eaten by what I believe is a Lily Leaf Beetle. Is there anything that I can do to prevent these little pests from doing further damage to my plants? I have heard that Bayer Rose and Flower spray can help with this problem." - Lynn
ANSWER: Yes, the Bayer rose spray would work but you may want to try an organic remedy. I have a friend who sprayed his plants with a sugar water mixture (spray bottle with water and enough sugar added that will dissolve and stay in solution.) The beetles will eat the sugar but cannot digest it. After gorging themselves they will fly off to die. Just a thought that may work.

e-mail with a comment about an answer I'd given in a previous Plant Man column.
"Just wanted to comment on your reply to the question regarding Japanese beetles attacking linden trees. Your suggestion to use the peaches in a milk jug is very similar to other Japanese Beetle traps (Bag-a-bug) which use pheromones to lure the beetles. However, these traps do more harm than good in my opinion unless you place them far, far away from the plants they're intended to protect. They lure more than they catch.
"The best approach is to apply Milky Spore to turf grass in the surrounding areas where the beetle grubs reside. As the grubs are infected, they decompose and release billions of new spores which eventually results in long term control of the Japanese beetle problem. Our community is currently implementing a plan to treat all common areas and encourage all residents to treat their yards. In the interim, there are various insecticides if you're not opposed to chemicals (such as Bayer Advanced) that can be watered into the soil at the base of the tree and once absorbed move up through the tree to provide protection against Japanese beetles." - Jasmine Jensen
ANSWER: Thank you for your suggestion, Jasmine. I'd like to learn more about what your community is doing in this regard. For readers who are not familiar with Milky Spore, you can find some very useful information online at a Web site hosted by the USDA titled "Managing the Japanese Beetle." The address is http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/housing/japanese-beetle/jbeetle.html but the easiest way to get there is to find this column at my Web site www.landsteward.org and you can click on a direct link.
According to the USDA site, Milky Spore is the common name for spores of the bacterium Bacillus popillae. This bacterium was first registered for use on turf in suppression of the Japanese beetle grub in the United States in 1948. Upon ingestion, these spores germinate in the grub's gut, infect the gut cells, and enter the blood, where they multiply. The buildup of the spores in the blood causes the grub to take on a characteristic milky appearance. Milky spore disease builds up in turf slowly (over 2-4 years) as grubs ingest the spores, become infected, and die, each releasing 1-2 billion spores back into the soil. Milky spore disease can suppress the development of large beetle populations.
As Jasmine has discovered, it works best when applied in community-wide treatment programs. If you think you have a Japanese beetle problem, you'll find an enormous amount of information at the USDA site I mentioned. They have also included a list of "best" and "worst" plants to have in your yard if Japanese beetles are a matter of concern. Check with your extension agent regarding the availability of Milky Spore material.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org. For resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free weekly e-mailed newsletter, go to www.landsteward.org
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Mmm... sugar water to kill beetles... why would they eat the sugar anyway? If they're leaf eaters, I guess you're trying to have them accidently eat it?
Plus, what about the ants? Big-headed ants, thief ants and little black ants may be attracted to the area. Possibly even fire ants, though they prefer protien and greases.
Kinda' like frying pan into the fire...
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