Category Archives: Beetles

Insects

Japanese Beetle

Insects are part of life.  I mostly ignore them unless they are deer flies or horseflies.  I get swollen welts the size of a cupcake when they sneak up and get me.  Denver is pretty dry, so mosquitos aren’t much of a problem.  Bees and wasps won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.  Flies in the house are a nuisance but they are easy to control.   

Insects in the garden can be a problem, but they can be controlled as well.  There is one huge exception, however.  Japanese beetles are evil, vile, nasty creatures masterminded by Darth Vader, the Empire, and the Borg.  They eat, kill, and destroy.   

Four years ago Denver had no Japanese beetles.  Then, someone in one of the upscale neighborhoods brought in some plantings with beetle larvae in the soil.  They are rapidly spreading northward.  Two years we had a few, last year they were a plague.   

Damage

What do they do?  The beetles themselves eat leaves.  They love rose blossoms, but leave those leaves alone.  They like linden tree leaves, grape leaves, raspberry leaves, and peach tree leaves.  A rosebud opens in the morning and by noon the flower is gone.  They work on grape leaves to the extent that any new growth stops.  That is no good when you are trying to grow a grape arbor.  Lots of linden leaves get honeycombed, but the tree seems to be able to cope.  Our peach tree and the raspberries get attacked, but so far, not a lot of damage.   

In Palisade, over on the Western Slope, peaches and vineyards are the mainstay of the economy.  Unchecked, the beetles would have wiped them out, so they took the nuclear option.  They sprayed.  Spraying stopped the beetles, but it killed the beneficial insects as well.   

Japanese Beetle Grubs in a Lawn

The other part of the Japanese beetle life cycle is when the beetles fly down and lay their eggs in the lawn.  The eggs hatch, and the grubs start eating the grass roots.   Lots of eggs, lots of grubs.  They can be so dense as to form a living mat of grubs.  The lawn develops spreading dead spots.  Uncontrolled, no lawn. 

What to do?  In the morning go out and flick the beetles into soapy water.  Nematodes and milky  spore help with the grubs.  There is a grub poison called GrubEx, but it isn’t selective in what it poisons.   

Trap

A popular control is traps.  The kind where the beetles fly into the jug, attracted by some bait.  They drown, and give off a scent that attracts more beetles.  Soon, it is a beetle feeding frenzy with beetles coming from the entire neighborhood.  They look around for another snack and eat all your plants.  You can’t have the trap near your vulnerable plants, not easy on a small urban lot.  I think I will do it anyway, just to watch the evil creatures die. 

I don’t think we will have a grape arbor.  The linden, peach tree, and the raspberries will cope.  We will cut off all the rose buds in June and July.  We may have to eliminate what lawn we have left after years of reducing its size.  

My task is to give up on my beetle obsession.

 Japanese Beetle

Changes

Equanimity2I retired five years ago.  I waited until I was 68 to pile up some more retirement benefits.  I also waited because I was scared of retiring.  When I retired I took two part time jobs which soon went to one.  I felt like I had to work.  That lasted four years.  Now, I am truly retired.  (Funny thing, I wrote tired instead of retired.).  

Another reason I retired from my career in water treatment was noticing I just was not as sharp as I used to be.  I have always been fairly sharp, except for the ADD brain lapses I have always lived with.  The lapses were more frequent.  One of my part time jobs required constant focus.  Not good.  The other one was working with elementary school kids, and meant unremitting joy.  I gave that job up because I didn’t want to work so many hours, and my bad back was complaining. 

Now my back still complains, but I can pace myself more and take a time out if I need to.  Right now it’s my upper back hurting after yoga and shoveling a pickup load of wood chips.  Today I am going for a walk where it is flat. 

About those lapses.  All older people complain about them.  The other day I made four trips to the basement to get something and never did come up with it.  Yesterday I was in the grocery store and upset because I forgot the list.  When I got home without some things on the list I found it in my pocket.   

Well, there is a reason for this.  As we age, our brains tend to shift from the executive function-running things- to inner processes.  It is certainly true for me.  I want to write, read, meditate, and enjoy happy entertainment.  There is a huge obstacle right now.  Politics.   

Prayer

Prayer

It’s hard to hold on to my equanimity these days.  Usually I deal with negativity by praying for the people creating the mood.  I have even prayed for Newt Gingrich.  I have yet to be able to pray for His Yellowness.  Praying for people doesn’t necessarily change them, although sometimes it does, but it does change me.  The changes I experience make me more able to live with myself.  I am even less of a jackass on the road. 

I have more peace.  My body doesn’t work as well as it used to, but I think my mind may be getting to a place where I can actually experience the inner connectedness of all life.  I can find joy in anyone.  Well, most everyone.  I also have trouble feeling connected with the Japanese Beetles who want to eat stuff in our garden.  I can’t go above the second step on the ladder because I tend to fall off.  Some of the evil critters get away because I can’t get high enough. 

On balance, aging isn’t so bad.  I have lived a life of constant stress from trying to be normal when I am not.  Now, I get to embrace being weird and getting weirder, and love life.  Mostly. 

I will know I am really on the right track when I can pray for THEM.

Japanese Beetles

We are being attacked.  When the weather gets hot, Japanese Beetles come out and eat roses, hollyhocks, buckthorn, linden trees, and grape leaves.  The poor roses hardly have a chance.  The new flowers are ragged by noon.  All that is left on some of the grape leaves are the veins.  The hollyhocks lose their flowers as well.   

Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetle

It’s war!  They are relatively new arrivals here in our neighborhood.  They showed up last year and this year they are all over our plants.  The evil little beetles come out and eat during the hot weather, lay their eggs in the lawn, the grubs hatch and eat the grass roots.  Next spring, the grubs become beetles, and the horrible thing starts all over again.   

When they hit the peach and vineyard area around Palisade, the chemicals came out and the infestation was stopped.  They don’t talk about the harm done to beneficial insects.  We try to be organic, so the poisons are out.   

The first tactic we adopted is to go out with a small pitcher with some dish soap laden water, find the bugs, and flick the bugs into the water with a table knife.  It goes on all day.  The grape arbor is high, and I am banned from going up more than two steps on the ladder, so some escape.  I am not big on killing living beings, but here is an exception.

They are fairly round with an iridescent shell.  Ugly little beasts.  At the end of the day we have dozens floating in the water.  With a lot of research, mostly on University Extension Service websites, we discovered neem oil with a tiny amount of azadirachtin kills and repels the little beasts. 

As the grubs get active in the turf, we are going to introduce some nematodes that attack the grubs.  With luck, we won’t have those dead spots in the lawn.  The nematodes stay around, so one time for them.  

On my bug hunt one morning, I didn’t find one beetle.  The fortified neem oil is working.  After a couple of days they are back and it’s back to work. The neighbors won’t be killing the grubs, so we will have an annual battle.   

If you have Japanese Beetles, neem oil with azadirachtin works.  Straight neem oil works on lots of harmful insects, but not without some azadirachtin for our little buddies.  If you need neem oil and don’t have Japanese Beetles, we have a couple of bottles we will give you.  Good hunting!