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Japanese beetle control

 
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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dog forest garden trees cooking food preservation homestead
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I'm hoping someone can help me out with an urgent situation in zone 7A.  

For the past couple of weeks I have been noticing Japanese beetles all over a large patch of dogbane that is growing in my field.  This dogbane is growing back after my neighbor came and cut the field for hay a month ago.  However, this morning I noticed that the yearling plum tree sapling that I planted this spring (as part of a permaculture food forest that I'm trying to create) was being ravaged by Japanese beetles as well.  Almost every leaf was chewed up.  I already have 2 Japanese beetle traps hanging nearby because last year they were attacking my hibiscus flowers in droves!  It is obscene how many Japanese beetles are around right now.  Does anybody have a mitigation strategy?  I really don't want to start spraying the plum tree with chemicals
 
Posts: 103
Location: Western Kentucky
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Maybe relocate the traps? Are they between the dogbane and your plants? Upwind? If they are already on your plants in numbers, it may be too late if that's the issue. They are very difficult to repel, even with modern insecticides, especially naturally.
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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dog forest garden trees cooking food preservation homestead
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Yeah Jordan, maybe I will relocate the traps in between the dogbane and the plum tree.  They're around 20 yards apart.
 
pollinator
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Location: Porter, Indiana
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With the traps, you can put a big dent in the population, but you'll need a lot of traps spread out over a few acres. At one point, I had close to a dozen traps spread over five acres, and it did seem like there was some reduction in the beetle population. The little bags that come with the traps fill up quickly, so I'd suggest having the traps direct to larger containers.

Even with that many traps, the plum trees still got hit hard, so there definitely was a temptation to drench a or two tree in toxic gick to turn them into giant beetle killing traps.
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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dog forest garden trees cooking food preservation homestead
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Thanks for the post John.  I think I will be stopping on the way home for a few more traps.  I'll see if that works before using the toxic gick!  
 
pollinator
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Chickens got rid of the JBs in my garden. They ate so many of them in the grub stage, that I haven't seen an adult beetle around here in almost 2 years.

I used to know a guy whose chickens would eat the adult beetles, but it seems to vary by flock. Mine can't stand the adult ones. But, if you manage to get a flock that will eat them, you can redirect one of those traps so it drops the beetle into a dish of water. That slows them down enough for the chickens to grab them, but if there isn't a chicken around they'll eventually climb out on their own. That keeps the water dish from filling with dead beetle carcasses.
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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I need to get some chickens Ellendra, but I'm not quite there yet!  Thanks for the info.
 
master steward
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I would cover the plum tree with something that the beetle cannot get into. Anything that would work, even an old sheet.  There may not be any leaves left though the tree will want to put new leaves out.

It is surprising to me that plants still can get sunlight even when covered with an old sheet.
 
Posts: 53
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Ugh, we have had problems with them the last two years on corn and blueberries. I'm trying beneficial nematodes this year. I realize it won't have an immediate effect but I'm trying to think longterm. I also use neem sprays which should deter feeding. Our ducks eat them but it's hard to measure the effect size there. I had a bucket on the porch that I had picked cherries in this weekend and hadn't rinsed. This morning there are probably 30+ japanese beetles in there. There's always hand picking or knocking them off the target tree into a soapy water bucket (this worked well with the blueberries). I don't use traps myself for fear of attracting more beetles. Best of luck.
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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Great tip Anne.  Yes, the leaves are almost gone and it happened so quick!
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Location: King William, VA
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Noel, those are good ideas.  Yeah, I spent about an hour last night and this morning picking the beetles off of the dogbane and plum and into soapy water.  Hopefully when I get home tonight there will be noticeably less, but I'm not holding my breath!
 
Posts: 74
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- Zone 5a
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I feel your pain! Our young plum (maybe 4 or 5 years old?) has been hit hard the past two years. They tried really hard to defoliate the poor little guy. This year, he is looking pretty lush and healthy again, but the Japanese beetles aren't quite out here. Probably soon. My plan is the soapy water bucket. I don't even "pick" them... I just hold the bucket under a branch and give a swift downward swat of the branch and they fall right in the water. I do find you have to do this every day, for the whole beetle season. I think I gave up too early last year. No giving up this year... may end up covering in netting if it all becomes too much.
 
Posts: 7
Location: Zone 8a
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plant 4 o'clocks. The humming birds and bees love them, but from what i have read and seen, they are toxic to Japanese beetles. They are also toxic to humans and dogs. My dogs haven't tried to eat the ones I have, and one of my dogs is part goat.
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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Heidi, since I posted this, I have been going out every evening and walking through the dogbane patch, plum, hibiscus tree (and now asparagus and elderberry) and putting them into a bucket of soapy water.  After 3 days even I have made a very noticeable dent in the population, so between that and my two traps I think it's working!  Persevere fellow Permies!
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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Thanks for that tip, Redd.  I read that somewhere as well.  Do you start yours from seed? I assume in 8a they are NOT perennial?
 
Redd Hudson
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Location: Zone 8a
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@josh
My 4 o'clocks are perennials.

They die back fully every winter (all 4 weeks LOL).  They produce seeds all season. The parent plants are growing from tubers, that get to be the size of softballs.

I am happy to send seeds if you send me a SASE. I am not sure how get you my address... purple moosages?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1276
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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I know this isnt the most permies solution, but I have a cordless blower i run in reverse to chop them up. My chickens won't eat the mature ones, but they are definitely fewer.
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
Location: King William, VA
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That sounds like fun, Tj!  I have been diligent at picking them into a bucket of soapy water, and after 5-6 days there is a noticeable difference.  Permaculture solutions!
 
Joshua LeDuc
Posts: 75
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Redd Hudson wrote:@josh
My 4 o'clocks are perennials.

They die back fully every winter (all 4 weeks LOL).  They produce seeds all season. The parent plants are growing from tubers, that get to be the size of softballs.

I am happy to send seeds if you send me a SASE. I am not sure how get you my address... purple moosages?



Hey Redd, I just emailed you.
 
Redd Hudson
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Location: Zone 8a
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hi Josh, I got your email. I will send them end of the week.
 
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