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Japanese Beetles on my Blackberries

 
Jayden Thompson
Posts: 114
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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I have Japanese beatles on my Triple Crown Thornless Blackberries.  I'm guessing I've got a good 20 pounds or more of blackberries that are just starting to ripen, and last year the Japanese beatles were all over them before I could harvest and I lost almost all of them.

Now the berries are starting to turn ripe, and I see the beatles all over the leaves.  I want to get them out of there before the berries ripen, and obviously I want to do it naturally and/or organically.  What can I do right now to save my berries?
 
John Saltveit
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You could make a rock pile in the morning sun to attract snakes or other reptiles.  Try to think about what would eat Japanese beetles.  Or you could take a road trip out west with your hippest friends, Daddy-0.
John S
PDX OR
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 640
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Covering the blackberries with netting would probably be your best best if you want a reasonable amount of protection. I've tried most of the spectrum of things for fighting the beetles from companion planting to the toxic-ist of gick, and the Japanese Beetles are un-phased by most of it.
 
Jayden Thompson
Posts: 114
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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I've heard up setting up a drop cloth at night, then shaking the plants in the morning so the beetles will fall to the ground.  Then you can dunk the drop cloth in soapy water to ensure they don't come back.  Has anyone tried this?

I was thinking to try this technique, but feed them to my chickens instead. 
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 640
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Dean Moriarty wrote:I've heard up setting up a drop cloth at night, then shaking the plants in the morning so the beetles will fall to the ground.  Then you can dunk the drop cloth in soapy water to ensure they don't come back.  Has anyone tried this?

A few years ago when my trees were smaller, I would shake the beetles off the tree, into a net, and then crush them. By the time I had finished with the 50th or so tree, the first few trees would already be covered again with Japanese Beetles.

Any chance you could let the chickens loose on your blackberries with them eating all the blackberries or destroying the bushes?
 
Carl Trotz
Posts: 15
Location: Upstate New York
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I've had some success with planting tansy around my plum saplings, which had previously been completely defoliated.  Tansy can be aggressive, though.  I know the plum trees will eventually shade them.  But tansy versus blackberries?  I don't know.  It might be worth experimenting.  Or you could try cutting tansy elsewhere, and strewing it over the canes during peak beetle season.

As for the beetles, I shake them into a bucket that has a few inches of water (because they can't fly away while they're swimming), then pour it all into a dog bowl for the chickens.  They love it, it's like they're bobbing for apples.
 
Jamie Davis
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Wasps are natural predator to the beetles. But wasps can making picking thornleas berries painful.
 
Cristo Balete
Posts: 428
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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I use a large yogurt container half filled with water, than a layer of cooking oil, then a squirt of dish soap.  I walk around in the morning and afternoon (since I'm harvesting other things anyway) when they start being most active and knock them manually into the container.  I swirl it on occasion to make sure they stay in the liquid.   I put the lid back on it when I'm done and leave it sitting in the sun.  I'll use that container until it's just too full.

It's important to start as early in the spring as you spot them.  I've been doing this for 5 years, and every year there are fewer and fewer of them, not enough now to cause a lot of damage.  The weather in years to come may change this, but in the big picture I don't have nearly as many as when I didn't do this.   I think the birds and hornets do way more damage, so get some sheer curtains to put over the berries (so they will flap in the wind)  to stop the birds.
 
John Saltveit
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Jamie,
I don't understand. Why would wasps making picking thornless berries more painful than thorny berry plants?
Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
Alex Riddles
Posts: 28
Location: Columbia Missouri
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Around here we trap them.  The local garden shops carry traps that are made of a hanging plastic bag with a funnel in the top. On top of that there is a small canister of food and pheromone scents.  I hung 2 of them 3 days ago and have collected about a gallon of beetles.  In my experience the problem is reduced for several years because the pheromones attract the breeding population.  To help with the trapping I shake my apple and plum trees several times a day.  Hopefully once the Beetles are flying around they will find the trap.  Even with the traps I am still experiencing some damage.

Japanese beetles are suseptable to milky spores during their larval stage.  I looked into this several years ago when they first arrived in my area.  I didn't think it was practical in my circumstances since you need to treat each square foot of soil.  If they keep getting worse over the years I may reconsider this.
 
Jamie Davis
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John Saltveit wrote:Jamie,
I don't understand. Why would wasps making picking thornless berries more painful than thorny berry plants?
Thanks,
John S
PDX OR


John,

I was merely attempting to humorously draw attention to the fact that hornets do  occasionally sting, which hurts more than,picking thornless berries.
 
John Saltveit
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GOt it. Sorry, I was a little slow on that one.
John S
PDX OR
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 171
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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D.E. works for me. Just take care not to get it on the blossoms or you will murder all your insect pollinators.
 
John Alabarr
Posts: 78
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What I do is buy those Japanese beetle traps and take the beetle lure out and put them in my chicken cage.  The beetles are attracted to the lure in the chicken cages and then get eaten by the chickens.
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