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Recent entries

Kevin Hahn

Food Plotting

Japanese Beetle Season

Thu, July 11, 2013

I first started seeing Japanese beetle adults 2 weeks ago here in central Illinois which signaled the beginning of the Japanese beetle season for this year.  I haven’t seen many beetles here in central Illinois since seeing the first beetles and hopefully their numbers will stay low. I am also not seeing many beetles in areas of southern Illinois that I have traveled to the past couple of weeks. However, I am getting reports of locally heavy infestations in the Monmouth, Galesburg, and Macomb areas as well as in parts of northern Illinois. 

Picture of Japanese beetle adults (internet photo).

Japanese beetle season – Life cycle
The Japanese beetle has a one-year life cycle with adults typically appearing in late-June to early July here in Illinois.  Usually by the end of July to early August the adult numbers have dropped off significantly.
University of Illinois Extension service diagram

Wide plant host range
Adults can live up to 4-6 six weeks and Japanese beetle adults will feed on wide range of plants. For food plot plantings, pollinating corn, soybeans leaves, and fruit tree leaves and fruit are often favorites. Typically, adult beetles will feed in large numbers and heavy infestations can completely defoliate soybeans and fruit trees in short order. Japanese beetles can also reduce corn pollination significantly by feeding on and clipping corn silks.

Japanese beetle adults feeding on soybeans

Japanese beetles feeding on corn silks (photo Iowa State University)

Preventing a Japanese beetle feeding frenzy
Japanese beetles are very mobile strong fliers and can travel miles to reach a desirable food source or to find a mate.  Japanese beetles are attracted to plants that have had feeding damage from other Japanese beetles and this in combination with the fact that female beetles emit chemicals (pheromones) which attract more beetles can result in a rapid buildup of adult beetles and a very destructive feeding frenzy.  I have found that controlling these early arrival Japanese beetles can reduce overall damage to plants significantly.  This past weekend, I was at our farm in SE Illinois and only found a few J. beetle adults.  I decided to spray my fruit trees in the orchard with a long residual (10 – 14 days) insecticide for it may be a week or more before I return.  This should help to protect my trees in the event that beetle numbers increase in the area when I am not around.

Products for controlling Japanese beetles
There are many over-the-counter products for control of Japanese beetle adults. Insecticides such as Sevin and Malathion are very effective for knock down of Japanese beetle adults but are typically short residual (2-3 days) products especially if a rainfall event occurs. Products containing pyrethroid insecticides typically have much longer residual as compared to Sevin and Malathion, and thus can require less frequent sprays.  Pyrethroid containing insecticides can be identified by letters “thin” at the end of the active ingredient name on the product label and may or may not be available at lawn and garden centers.  Many pyrethroid insecticides that are used in agricultural crops are restricted use insecticides, which means they can only be applied by a certified applicator.  Note: Before making any pesticide applications, always read and follow the product label use instructions and restrictions.

Non chemical
Hand picking beetles – some have suggested this as a strategy for controlling Japanese beetles.  Hand picking adults off of plants may be effective with a very light infestation of beetles on low growing plants. With the infestations that I have encountered, this method is just not practical, especially for trees and larger Ag fields.

There was a recent report from the University of Illinois Extension Service suggesting that the use of Japanese beetle adult traps can result in more damage to plants because these traps often use a floral lure and a sex lure to attract Japanese beetles and thus these products may actually bring more beetles into the area than would normally be present.  This may or may not be the case, but my own personal experience with these traps is that these products were not effective in protecting my plants.  I found that during heavy infestations, the bags would fill up very quickly (within hours) and would require frequent attention with replacing bags.  A bag full of dead sun-baked Japanese beetle adults can be very smelly and disgusting encounter.  Try if you wish, maybe you will have better luck than what I have had with traps.

Japanese beetle trap (internet photo)





They’re full bore here in Adams county Kevin-They love our Plum Tree- Yellow Roses-Rose of Sharon- along with some Elm Tree’s-Seven does work pretty well with no rain.

Posted by walmsley on July 11

I’ve used those traps before and would agree with the statement,that it does seem to attract ALOT more beetles into my yard.I ended up suspending the lure bait over buckets of water and then ended up dumping and refilling the buckets several times a day…and I emptied alot of buckets.

Being a flyfishermen and having had great success before by using a beetle pattern,wonder if someone would suspend one of those trap disc’s low over the water of a nearby pond,might find a way to get rid of the beetles and a great way to chum/attract some fun fish activity?

Posted by tw67 on July 11

Your blog is one of my favorites to read here on H.O. because i am new to plots and located here in S.E. IL.
May not be something you want to share on web site but was wondering what county your farm is in down here ?

Thanks for sharing the info for me to learn from.

Posted by silbowhunter on July 11

I have used Dial Dish Soap and water on our sweet corn patches and it seems to work temporarily, but when I worked for a Co-op we sold a lot of Sevin!

Posted by Gohunt88 on July 11

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