Out in force now, those alien invaders Japanese beetles can be found chewing up rose buds, blooms and foliage, hollyhocks, raspberries and even peach tree foliage. Early morning and late afternoon “sweeps” of the garden will find these pests shredding uppermost foliage and inside rose blooms and buds.  While spraying might be effective for those insects present, it is no magic bullet and broad spectrum pesticides often do more damage that good. Even so there are alternatives. Though it seems we have no allies in this ever-increasing battle, there is a small insect, the Tachinid fly that lays its eggs right behind the Japanese beetle’s head. Look for a tiny opaque white dot there, and spare that beetle to enable the parasitic insects to hatch out (increasing their numbers to go on and attack more beetles) and finish off the beetle. tachnid eggs:J. beetle cropped
If you see no white spot, you have a couple options. Working quickly (for Japanese beetles have the annoying habit of dropping to the ground when they sense danger and cannot be seen once there, or they fly away) either squash them with your fingers (Ick! But they don’t bite) or take a widemouth jar half full of water with a few drops of dish detergent with you, and lightly tap the beetles into the jar where they will eventually drown. If you do this faithfully for the next few weeks, you should be able to reduce the damage and beetle populations. Happy hunting.

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