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Are Japanese Beetles Feeding Off Your Trees?

Japanese Beetle on Leaf

The Japanese Beetle was first discovered at a nursery in New Jersey in 1916 and has since stayed east of the Mississippi River, so you have likely seen them around your home. The westward expansion has so far been successful because the larvae have favorable ground cover, adequate rainfall, and likely human-assisted movement. In the natural habitat of the Japanese beetle, some natural enemies keep the population in check. Although they are still considered a destructive species, the damage is far less in Japan than in the United States.

They are known for their iridescent copper-colored forewings and green head. The larvae of these beetles are notorious for eating the roots of many genera of grasses while they are still in the soil. The eating of the grassroots makes the grass susceptible to a fatal disease known as milky spore disease. As they mature, they begin to consume the leaves of a much wider range.

The Japanese beetle is an invasive species that feed on the leaves, flowers, or fruits of more than 200 species of plants and trees. Some of the most common trees that Japanese beetles feed on include linden, apple, crabapple, cherry, plum, birch, elm, and Virginia creeper. They skeletonize leaves by feeding on the tissue between the veins leaving damaged leaves to turn brown and potentially fall off. These damaged leaves attract more beetles for feeding so management is recommended by mid-June, as they start appearing in early July.

There are no “quick” fixes to the infestation of Japanese beetles, however, there are a few control methods to prevent damage. Control methods include biological, cultural, and chemical strategies. Biological measures include adding parasites, nematodes, or fungi to the area affected. These biological agents are not readily available for homeowners and can take longer to produce results. Cultural measures include using a trap method. These traps range from planting resistant plant species to mechanical trap systems. Homer Tree Care provides chemical strategies to homeowners for preventative measures that last.

As always, it is best to consult professionals when dealing with tree damage from Japanese Beetles. We advise you to contact our specialists at Homer Tree Care who will be able to offer suggestions for your tree damage and treat your trees so that they flourish and live a long, healthy life. Contact us today for the best tree and plant care support.

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