Sunday, February 19, 2012


Technically we live in the country, at least it was 25 years ago.  The city has moved to us.  It grew and encroached on the property across the road.  The town, at the intersection of the interstate, annexed a mile of road.  We are at the end of that acquisition.  One hundred and eighty acres of an old mountain across the street was bulldozed and blasted.  They removed the top of the hill and shoved it down into the valley.  Removing all the old forests with the rocks.   The only logging done was the removal of a few large walnut trees.  The oaks and other hardwoods were cut and put through a shredder.  No one was even allowed to come in and harvest them for firewood.  The chips were buried in with the land fill rock.

Our little bit of country sits overlooking the subdivision .  There is a 5 acre pasture which fronts the road.  Since we don't have grazing animals anymore it is no longer cut for hay.  It has been let grow up in native plant species.  We mow around them when we see them bloom hoping they will grow into a larger patch of flowers.  In the middle of our field we have a very large stand of milk weed.  We left it there because of the butterflies it brings.  We never realized how teeming with life it is.  It's its own little community, each life form competing for its own real estate.   

Asclepias syriaca L. common milkweed
We never realized it would also be an attractant for our arch nemesis the Japanese beetle.  They are such exhibitionists.  Actually though they do not seem to like the milk weed.  It is the weeds which grow in between the stalks they seem to be attracted to.  To possibly alleviate this problem we will mow the area when winter comes.  Next spring we will watch for the milk weed to sprout and when it does we will mulch with chips.  (I'm not sure what milk weed seeds requirements are, I don't want to mulch till I see them.  I would hate to suffocate them).  I have never seen milk weed growing around the chip piles, I think they may need light to sprout.
Japanese beetles procreating.

Species Popillia japonica - Japanese Beetle

They are native to East Asia, they were introduced in north america in 1916, with nursery stock. They hatch in June and July.  Larvae feed on roots of plants. Adults feed on foliage and flowers.  The Grubs feed on roots, then  hibernate when cool weather comes. 
Japanese beetles are always the scourge of our gardening.  They are around for an extremely long six weeks; devouring most all vegetation, especially flowers (roses seem to be a favorite).  It seems they hatched earlier this year. 

There is not much you can do about controlling Japanese beetles.  We have used the traps.  It is said they  attract the "bugs" to your area. I don't know if this is actual truth.  They do catch a lot.  I will say they are a very nasty proposition to get rid of.  One year we had so many beetles we were emptying them once each day.  We emptied them because to replace the bags was getting  expensive.  At the same time we hand pick the beetles. 

This is how we dispose of the beetles.  Use a 5 gallon bucket which has a lid; we use Kitty litter pails.  Fill it a fourth full of water, empty the bag into it and clamp the lid on fast (the reason you do it fast is the bugs in the bag are alive and they will fly out).  Shake the bucket around getting the beetles wet.   You can fill it 2/3 full before emptying but I warn you when the bugs die it is the most vile smell.  It takes approximately 3 days for all the bugs to die (3 days after the last addition.)  We empty it a long way from the house.

Hand picking the beetles: we use a plastic 2 cup measuring cup with a handle.  We put a couple of inches water in the bottom and hold the cup under where the beetles are and  tap or shake the branch and they fall into the cup. The year we were emptying the bags each day we were hand picking 3 times a day.  The two cup measure was filled each time.

If you are in a subdivision and have a small yard you can treat with "milky spore ".  The reason I say small lot, Milky spore is very expensive.  It's one plus is; you only have to do it one year.  It lives in the ground after that.  Milky spore attacks the grubs in the earth.  If your neighbors have the grubs then the beetles will also come to visit your garden too.  You need to ask the neighbors to treat their yards too.  We don't use it because we would have to treat 15 acres of pasture with it.  Grubs are the progeny of the beetles (they grow up to be Japanese beetles).

 Species Tetraopes tetrophthalmus - Red Milkweed Beetle
The larvae feed on  Common Milkweed (A. syriaca). They lay eggs on stems near ground or just below surface. Larvae bore into stems, overwinter in roots, and pupate in spring. Adults emerge in early summer.
From what I read when looking for the identification of this beetle, we will be raking up and cleaning the debris from the area in early fall.  Milk weed is a perrineal, we won't have to worry about removing too many of the seeds and not having a field next year.  This species seems to be only a threat to the milk weed family.  This is the first year we have seen it.

I found this site when looking for the red milkweed beetle.  It seems to be a very in depth Identification site for insects.
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new blog February 16, 2012 "5 Panel Boxer Shorts: tutorial"

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