Friday, August 07, 2009

RIP, Japanese beetle

RIP Japanese Beetle

About this time a year ago, I was bemoaning the fact that Japanese beetles were wreaking havoc around my house. I first noticed some brown leaves falling from a large birch tree in my front yard. They all seemed to be skeletonized -- the only portions that remained were the veins, all else had been carefully eaten. A little Googling identified the culprits -- Japanese beetles, which have no natural enemies, therefore giving them free rein to do the two things they do best -- eat like gluttons and make baby beetles.

When a few beetles discover an ideal food source, say, the birch tree in my front yard, an ornamental shrub with reddish leaves, roses or fruit bearing plants, they set up residence and send out pheromones that other beetles can detect up to two miles away. Party's on.

Even more disturbing than the lawn bags full of dead leaves was that as I blew bushels of leaves out of my driveway day after day, I noticed a fine layer of coarse black dirt that blew off along with the leaves. It took me some time to realize that it wasn't dirt -- it was Japanese beetle poop raining from the birch tree.

I posted my situation on this blog last year and got a few good suggestions as to how to keep Japanese beetles at bay this time around. One of them was to dose the tree's roots in the springtime with an insecticide. The idea is that the tree will draw the chemical up from the ground and render its leaves poisonous to insects.

In late May, I poured two gallons of insecticide around the base of the tree as the leaves were just beginning to emerge. Then I waited for the beetles to arrive to see if it worked.

So far, so good. To date, I've only found two leaves with beetle damage that have fallen in my yard, and one of them had a dead beetle attached to it. My birch tree is still lush and green, while two trees across the street have long since turned brown and are losing leaves. Other trees around the subdivision in which I live have suffered a similar fate. Two trees never recovered from last year.

The Japanese beetle above is just one of many that I find in my driveway on a daily basis.

What is it that they say about payback?

Photographs © 2009 James Jordan.


Laurie said...

Great shots. Sweet revenge!!!

That is good that you have managed to control the pests this year. I am curious about the amount of pesticide needed to be poured into the ground though.

I have recently dealt with having to do major remediation of my contaminated property involving the EPA and it was a nightmare. It will also follow me forever. I have to report when I move withing 14 days to the state in case they ever "change the criteria" so that if they do and the property is then deemed out of acceptable criteria they know where to find me so that I will be responsible for more remediation. That experience has made me paranoid I think. I am now afraid to do anything that could ever come back to haunt me with that kind of nightmare.

In my state they have recently declared some farmland "contaminated" with pesticides and they will require remediation. This was discovered after the farms were sold and developed. I think it may have started out as a way to prevent housing development and to preserve open space but with some unintended consequences for the owners of those properties.

In some areas houses that had lead paint exteriors that have been found to have contaminated soil when the paint was either applied or scraped off and leached into the soil have had to have the perimeters remediated for lead contamination.

We live in a time where these things are coming back to haunt us at a great price, not only for our health but our wallets as well. My personal nightmare was in excess of $100,000 for the remediation of my very small suburban residential parcel. It was from a leaky heating oil tank. Thankfully I had proper oil tank insurance with my heating oil system so most of the major expense was covered, but it was a 3 year nightmare none the less.

Sandy said...

Great great shot of that Japanese beetle.