Japanese Beetles damaging the garden

japanese_beetle_adult.jpg I always thought that Japanese beetle infestations were at their worst in July. Why then, are they suddenly attacking some of my roses in August?

I’ve luckily never had too much trouble with Japanese beetles. Only a few here and there each year, whereas I hear from some gardeners that their roses and other plants are partially destroyed after a heavy infestation of the dreaded Japanese Beetles.

These nasty bugs only seem to be attacking a few of my roses. They love my Morden Sunrise in my front flower bed, and in the backyard they seem to be attacking William Baffin, Jacques Cartier, Climbing Iceberg, Baronne Prevost and Compte de Chambord. Considering how many roses I grow that’s not too bad, however these are some of my biggest roses so the damage is stating to become quite visible.

If your garden has never been attacked by Japanese beetles consider yourself lucky.

Adult Japanese beetles are 3/8 inch long metallic green beetles with hard, copper-brown wing covers. Five small white tufts project from under the wing covers on each side, and a sixth pair at the tip of the abdomen. These white tufts help to distinguish them from similar metallic green or coppery colored beetles.

Adults emerge from the ground in late May or early June. Individual beetles live about 30 to 45 days with activity concentrated over a four to six week period. Beetle numbers begin to decline in late July but some can be found as late as September.

I wonder if our cool June and rainy wet July delayed their emergence here in the Toronto area?

Japanese beetles can feed on about 300 species of plants, ranging from roses to poison ivy. Odor and location in direct sun seem to be very important factors in plant selection. The beetles usually feed in groups, starting at the top of a plant and working downward. While a single beetle doesn’t eat much; group feeding by many causes severe damage. Adults feed on the upper surface of foliage, chewing out tissue between the veins. This gives the leaf a characteristic skeletonized appearance.

I’ve also found that Japanese beetles seem to like eating rose buds and newly blooming roses.

If you don’t have too heavy an infestation of Japanese Beetles I’ve found that the best way of controlling them seems to be literally picking them off the plants and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water where they will drown.

The application of Milky Spore to the soil each year will also eventually kill off the larvae and make the likelihood of an infestation much lower.

There are pesticides that you can use if you have a heavy infestation in your garden. I prefer not to use chemicals in my garden because they often do more damage than good. I garden organically and I’ve found that dealing with pests can be quite challenging in an organic garden. I’m glad that there are always alternatives to using chemicals.

Traps can be used to attract and collect beetles however research conducted at the University of Kentucky has shown that the traps attract many more beetles than are actually caught. Consequently, susceptible plants along the flight path of the beetles and in the vicinity of traps are likely to suffer much more damage than if no traps are used at all. In most landscape situations, use of Japanese beetle traps probably will do more harm than good. If you experiment with traps, be sure to place them well away from gardens and landscape plants.

In previous years I’ve grown Four O’Clocks (Marvel of Peru) beside several of my rose bushes and it’s said that Japanese beetles do not like this plant. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never had much trouble with the darn shiny bugs. I planted my Four O’clock seeds late this year though so the plants likely aren’t mature enough to discourage the beetles.

I also used to grow garlic near my roses as that was said to help ward off Japanese beetles. I don’t grow garlic anymore as I always forgot to pick it!

Have your plants ever been attacked by Japanese Beetles? Have you seen any Japanese beetles this year? How have you handled beetle infestations?






Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Google
  • YahooBuzz
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Did you know the Sago Palm is toxic to pets?

676138.jpg I just received a new edition of my ASPCA newsletter and one article in particular caught my eye. It was about the increased incidence of pets being poisoned by the Sago Palm. This plant can also be quite toxic to young children.

The Sago Palm is common in warm climates, but it’s become more popular in Northern homes as a houseplant. The plant is native to Southern Japan. It’s an attractive plant with dark green leaves and a hairy trunk.

Since 2003, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has seen an increase in cases of Sago palm and Cycad poisonings by more than 200 percent. APCC data also reveals that 50 percent to 75 percent of those cases resulted in fatalities.

sago-palm.jpg A chemical in the plant called cycasin is toxic and often causes permanent liver damage as well as neurological damage if enough of the poison is absorbed by the body. The seeds are the most poisonous part of the plant, although all parts of this plant are toxic, and the effects on humans are seizures, coma and death. Of course the seeds are an attractive reddish color so children and possible curious pets might be drawn to the plant.

Clinical signs of toxic poisoning are vomiting, melena (blood in stool), Jaundice, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising and later liver damage, liver failure and death.

If you have young children or pets in your home and you’d like to check to see if your house or garden plants are toxic you can take a look at this list of Toxic Plants. There’s also a list of non-toxic plants that you might also want to look at if you are planning on adding more plants to your collection.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Google
  • YahooBuzz
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Pet Alert – Cocoa bean mulch can be toxic to dogs

I use mulch in my garden beds, as I’m sure many of my fellow garden readers do as well.

I use shredded cedar and sometimes small cedar chips. It sure works well on the garden and looks nice too, but I suppose from a pet point of view that mulch isn’t the best bet. Plus the mulch I use is colored red and I have no idea if the dye is toxic or not, but I do know that coniferous woods like cedar are toxic to most animals.

My puppy is slowly learning to stay away from the garden, but when she was younger she was attracted to the cedar mulch and I found myself constantly pulling pieces of it out of her mouth (as soon as she grabbed it of course). She’s a Labrador Retriever – a breed that’s notorious for eating just about anything they can get in their mouth. They also have one of the highest rates of bowel obstructions (and surgeries due to said bowel obstructions) because of all the indigestible stuff they eat. That’s why I’ve been worried about my dog and my garden ever since I got her. Not to mention the toxic plants that I grow as well!

Cocoa bean mulch has become quite popular in recent years. It looks nice in garden beds, breaks down like other natural mulches and I believe it smells nice too.

If you happen to use Cocoa Bean Mulch in your garden and own a dog you might want to read the report that i just received in my ASPCA newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

If your dog likes to spend his summer grazing in your garden, his treat-seeking nose may lead him to one danger in particular: the sweet-smelling, but potentially harmful cocoa bean mulch. Made of cocoa bean shells and considered desirable for its eventual degradation into organic fertilizer, this gardener’s choice can be toxic to canines if eaten in large quantities—and some dogs have been known to eat amazing amounts!

In 2007, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handled 26 cases of cocoa bean mulch ingestion—a third originating in California. “Dogs are attracted to the fertilizer’s sweet smell,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA Veterinary Toxicologist and APCC Director, “but like chocolate, cocoa bean mulch can be too much for our canine companions.”

Ingestion of large amounts of cocoa bean mulch, which contains residual amounts of theobromine—a methylxanthine found in chocolate and known to be toxic to dogs—may cause a variety of clinical signs. These typically start with vomiting, diarrhea and elevated heart rate, and if large amounts are consumed, they may progress to hyperactivity, muscle tremors and possibly other more serious neurological signs.

Treatment includes administering medical-grade activated charcoal, bringing tremors under control, cardiac monitoring and preventing further exposure.

“One key point to remember is that some dogs, particularly those with indiscriminate eating habits, can be attracted to any organic matter,” says Dana Farbman, APCC Senior Manager, Professional Communications. “Therefore, if you have a dog with such eating habits, it’s important that you don’t leave him unsupervised or allow him into areas where such materials are being used.”

By now most of you have probably already added mulch to your garden, that is, if you regularly do add mulch. If you used cocoa bean mulch be sure to keep your dog away from your garden beds!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • Google
  • YahooBuzz
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS