PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When the Japanese Beetles arrive, you can’t miss them.
“They started showing up about three weeks ago all over my plants that I take care of daily,” says Dan Noschese of Richland Township. “And they’ve shown up more and more over the last couple weeks.”
Entomologist Dr. Chad Gore of Ehrlich Pest Control says, “This is the time of year we expect to see the adults come out.”
But he adds, unlike cicadas, “They are a perennial pest.”
The beetles start causing damage while still in the larvae form underground.
Dr. Gore says the “larvae will feed on the roots of the grass in the lawn.” The result is large brown spots on an otherwise healthy lawn.
He says when they surface as adults, they are after the leaves of plants. “There’s a lot of ornamental plants, including roses, that they like to eat,” he says.
Noschese has seen that first hand. “They’ve eaten a lot of the leaves on my plants, a lot of choice words for those beetles I’ll tell you. They do some destruction.”
Dr. Gore says this destruction goes up to and including killing a plant.
If you see the beetles on your plant and you want to preserve the leaves, Dr. Gore says to get the beetles off the plant.
Using your hand, grab them and put them in a plastic bag that you can seal. He says, “They’re not going to bite you, they’re only interested in the plants.”
However, be advised they are going to try to fly out of your hand so have the plastic bag handy. Once you’ve removed what you can, seal the bag and put it in the trash.
Japanese Beetle traps are very popular but Dr. Gore says, “People buy them and put them in the middle of the plants they are trying to protect.”
They wind up drawing more beetles to the area and it creates more damage. Instead, Dr. Gore says to put it in the back of the yard away from your plants or garden.
That’s exactly what Dan Noschese did and, “We’ve noticed a decline in the population.”
There are also products you can spray on your plants to ward off the beetles.
Rebekah Johnston at Bakerstown Feed and Garden says you need to spray the plants as soon as you see the beetles.
You may need to repeat the treatment. She says there are also materials you can put on your lawn.
“You put this down late July to early October, usually a one-time treatment,” she says.
The insecticide will penetrate the ground and kill the larvae in their smallest form.
“You’re preventing them from coming back next year,” she says.
This time next year, you will find out if it worked.
When you purchase something to take out the beetles, make sure that you check the product label carefully to see if it’s effective for the pest.
You also want to make sure you are not killing something you want to preserve like bees.