Monday, June 18, 2007

Japanese Beetles

On Friday, June 15th, Vonlafin, at Gardening with God, said she had Japanese beetles already,
( . I did a quick check today of the trees and plants that they love, sure enough I had a few of them too.
They love my birch and crabapple trees, purple coneflowers and roses. They will strip a tree of all the green from the leaves, leaving only the tell tell sign of the lacy patch and the stems.

Last year, before I even knew they were here, they had completely devoured my young crabapple tree and not a leaf was left. This year I moved that tree to the backyard because I didn't want a bare tree in the front yard. I don't use chemical sprays for pest control, so during the weeks when the adult beetle is active, I go out everyday and literally pick hundreds of them off by hand and put them in a zippered baggie. I sometimes feel that I am fighting a loosing battle with this nasty pest and last year I almost gave in to spraying. This year my trees already are so pathetic from the late freeze and drought that I won't be quite so disturbed by their destruction .

This is the grub, which is the larval stage of the Japanese beetle. I always run across these when I work in the yard, and I promptly squish them. They eat the roots of the grass. If someone has a good organic method for controlling this terrible pest, please let me know.
On a much brighter note, the birds have enjoyed the new birdbath and it had lots of activity today. These two mourning doves sat in the water together for quite some time. They must have been hot and were cooling off.
The birds took right to this birdbath, I think there are several reasons why this one is favored above the flower pot birdbath.
*This one is at the back of the yard and away from the house, the other one is right at the house.
*This one has a tree close by, the other one has a tree but it's not a good bird tree. It is a birch that I topped off last year because it was near death and ugly, it has quite a bit of new leaf growth, but the branches aren't very strong.
*This one has still water and I'm not certain that all birds like the dripping water, (the robins do).
*This one has a clay saucer and is easier to grip, the other is plastic. Yesterday a goldfinch attempted to land several times on the plastic one but never could.
*This one is shallow and the other one is deeper with rocks in it, the robins love to land on the rocks but the other birds do not.
*This one is near the bird feeder and there is more bird activity in this part of the yard.
I love having the flower pot birdbath in front of the window but I think I'll get a large clay saucer to replace the plastic one. For now I will also keep the dripping water because I like it. It is my cheap garden water feature. It is also helping to keep my Zinnia seeds moist.
Today I did some deadheading and weeding and worked on the edging around the back corner flowerbed. I also dug up one of my grasses that I bought last fall. I loved this grass during the winter, but this year it was only about half as large and seemed to be struggling. It was very root bound when I bought it and I didn't loosen or cut the roots and today it was still very tight and root bound. I split the grass into and cut off the bottom of the root ball. Hopefully, it will survive and be healthier and I'll get two of these beautiful grasses to enjoy this winter.


millionbells said...

This article has some good organic advice to counter those beetles.

Melanie Vassallo said...

Oh Robin,

I love your birdbath with the doves in it! We have a pile of old bricks left over from our old walkway and now I know what I'm going to do with some of them.

What did you use as a base? A cement square block?

Robin said...

Melanie, you certainly have plenty brick to use now, don't you? For my base I used two of the blocks that we had left over from our patio wall project. You could use a square concrete paver. It just needed a level base since I didn't morter mine; I wasn't sure if I wanted a permenant structure.

Millionbells, thank you for the lnk, I'll check it out.

vonlafin said...

I wish that I had the patience to pick the beetles by hand. You could try mixture of cayenne pepper, garlic, and dish soap. I can't imagine any pest wanting that sprayed on them. The problem is that you have to reapply after a rain....not that you have to worry much about that.

Molly said...

You need some yard chickens to eat your grubs!

Annie in Austin said...

Robin, I am so impressed with the logical and scientific way you thought through the reasons why one birdbath was preferred over another. Your ideas seem to be valid in my garden, too - especially the clay saucer and tree branches that are too weak.

In IL we also knocked the beatles into soapy water. Sometimes I'd put a clay saucer on the driveway while I weeded, and dumped any found grubs into it. The birds [especially robins] found these treats pretty quickly, and after a while, would begin to hop in anticipation as soon as walked around the corner with saucer and digger in hand.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Robin said...

Annie, I have never thought about feeding the grubs to the birds. What a great idea! Thank you!

loves all irises said...

Found your blog by accident today..I was looking for info on letting a moonflower grow up a Japanese Maple,, but nothing yet. I'll keep looking and watching the plants.

Anyway, I really enjoyed your pics and comments.

Was suprised you purchased plants, after all the propagating you did, but after seeing your lot --I understand.

Looks like you live in a really nice area...kinda rural and senic but urban. The best of both worlds.

Did you ever decide on a pot for the pillar? I like the medium sized round one. You've lots of straight lines there, so a curving shape looks nice.