Neighborhood Proposal to the Japanese Beetle Infestation

Dear Neighbors,

I have been vexed, irritated, and appalled by the surge of Japanese Beetles in our town. Having done quite a bit of research, I thought I might share a possible reduction method for your consideration. It will take many of us to make this work. But for the sake of our love town and beautiful gardens, I hope you will consider.

Quick Facts…

  • Adult Japanese beetles chew flower blossoms and leaves of many of our common garden plants.
  • Japanese beetle larvae are a type of white grub that feeds on the roots of grasses. Wondering about those spreading brown patches? It’s likely this insect’s larvae. 
  • Japanese beetle traps can capture many adults but have never been shown to reduce damage to nearby plants. In fact, they contain scents the Japanese beetles are attracted to, and it draws them to your yard! This makes the problem worse rather than solving it! 
  • Adults are best controlled by hand-picking. (I am proposing a less time-consuming and intensive solution as this can be exhausting.)
  • Japanese beetle larvae can be controlled with certain insecticides or by insect parasitic nematodes. (Again, I am proposing a less harmful solution, as insecticides can hurt grubs and insects that are beneficial to our healthy lawns and gardens, even if they do help address the Japanese beetles.)

The solution!

The solution is to lay down a safe, non-toxic, bioproduct called Milky Spore.

It can be purchased online. I have found it at Amazon or at garden centers in our area. The best news is that it only targets the Japanese beetle. 

Milky Spore, when spread on grassy areas where the beetle larvae are about to emerge in the next few weeks/months, can have a hugely beneficial impact. The instructions are clear and easy: Just drop a scoop or teaspoonful (depending on the product) every four (4) feet in a grid like pattern — no judgment on straight lines.

Doing these two or three times this year, say April, July and September and possibly next year,  allows the Milky Spore to spread throughout the lawns and prevents little to no larval beetle development for 10 to 20 years. What a nice long-term gain for a small investment. However, this will only be truly effective if most (or all!) of us participate. I’m hoping the Town Council will see their way to doing the Town public areas as well. 

Another natural item that can augment the eradication of these buggers is called Beneficial Nematodes – basically wee tiny worms who love to eat Japanese beetle larvae. They also are protective of our other “good bugs.” I found this product from a company called Arbico, and I’ve included their website below.

I am hoping this provides some solutions for this blight. And I’m hoping you all will participate with us. I know several homes on my block of Benton are planning on it. 

Happy summer and happy gardening!

Your neighbor,

Jenn Whalen

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