By Julie Hawley
They have finally arrived at our red house in the woods. Indeed, we have Japanese beetles here after hoping against hope they would steer clear of our gardens.
When our daughter and her family were here a week ago, she described the damage caused by the beetles in southern Wisconsin in Madison and Lake Mills where they live. Shrubs and garden plants laid waste by the hungry pests. All that is left of the leaves is a skeleton of veins, she said. “I hope you don’t get them here,” she added.
Then just two days after they went home, I spotted the dreaded Japanese beetles in the front garden on a rose bush. Ahhhh!!! What to do? Without a pause, I poured vinegar and dish soap into a wide mouth pint jar and started knocking the beetles into the lethal mix. After I finished with the rose bush I noticed more beetles on a chokeberry bush and got those ones too. This has now become my daily routine.
The numbers of beetles here seem fairly manageable right now. At the Hammond Golf Course, however, the damage is great. The beetles lay eggs in grassland and when they become grubs they cause the greatest damage to turf by feeding on roots. This is evident at the golf course, where there are large patches of dead grass all over the fairways.
When the grubs turn into adults, they start consuming the leaves of most anything. If they aren’t eating, they are mating and laying eggs. According to a fellow player on the golf course, one day there were thousands or millions of beetles flying around there in a mating frenzy. Oh my!
According to the USDA, there is a biological control that is commercially available in a powder form for application to lawn areas. At the golf course, grounds crew people have applied some such powder to kill the grubs. The USDA says that this type of control can take from one to five years to work.
We gardeners are always up against something it seems. Beetles, mildew, wilt, blossom end rot, racoons, drought, deer, the challenges are endless. But we keep our hands in the soil and perservere. The harvest is on.