Monday, July 16, 2012

Mother of All

Out at 8 AM and its 85 degrees and 77% humidity:  Mother of all sweat buckets!

Somehow I’d forgotten that once we get a good soaking rain (blessing that it was), we now have high humidity.  Those that must work in this surely in need of shade, hydration and breaks.

We had a good many insects (Japanese Beatles) and now we have the rain to bring in the rest.  I realized this morning we hadn’t had many flies – now we do.  I’ve also noticed I have a more diverse and plentiful amount of bees and wasps.  None have bothered me while walking the gardens because they’ve been busy on my flowers. 

Earwigs have done complete destruction to my Chinese cabbage.  This cabbage was something new I’d tried and it had every indication of quickly setting heads and yummy in dishes.  Slowly, they earwigs have killed every single plant in spite of my using insecticidal powder.

The gardens have a larger than usual number of praying mantis and I keep encouraging them to eat every Japanese Beatle on the property.  They’re fierce little insects but tend to sit and wait for an insect to come within their reach. 

Birds are doing their best to munch a lunch and I can see them picking on trees and in the grass.  Bats are spending a lot of air time at night swooping in for their supper.  Toads and frogs are busy little eaters.  Placing saucers of water in your gardens helps them stay hydrated.   

Apple, cherry, ash, elm and maples are taking a hit from the Japanese Beatles; nearly defoliating them in the process.  This is the second year for that kind of destruction and I’m sure the trees are being stressed.  I expect we’ll lose some over winter due to the trees being unable to take in nutrients through their leaves.

While traveling to Jacksonville the other day, I was amazed to see many trees beside the interstate already turning gold.  Upon closer inspection it wasn’t fall colors, it was Japanese Beatle damage.

County extension reports that one day there will be a predator for Japanese Beatles and then nature will return to its balance.  That predator hasn’t arrived this summer. 

I’ve been asked how to control the Beatles and there is simply no good answer.  Even though there are some things that kill them, the vacuum created is quickly filled with more.  Here are some current remedies:

Traps:  The bags with scented attractants WILL capture Japanese Beatles and you may find you will use up to thirty bags in a short time.  The down side is they also attract every Beatle within miles causing them to set up home in your garden. 

Soapy water:  Walking your garden with a bucket of soapy water, then knocking the Beatles off into it works.  For most of the day, your roses or hollyhocks will be able to bloom in relative peace.  It must be done every day – twice a day.  This is the desired method if you don’t want to use insecticides.

Milky Spores:  Scattering milky spore granules will naturally kill the grubs (winterizing JBs) over a period of time.  I recommend this even if you use other methods to collect the live Beatles.  The grubs can do a lot of turf damage.  It will not eliminate all JBs.

Insecticides:  There are several on the market that will kill JBs.  It will also kill most other insects it touches.  I don’t recommend this because it will kill the beneficial insects as well.  Bees are especially susceptible.  Bees take it back to their nests and it will kill the entire colony.  Toads and frogs are also very sensitive to insecticides and it can kill an entire generation.  If you must use insecticide to save field crops and trees, I recommend using on the foliage instead of spraying the ground.  Time the spraying so it won’t come in direct contact with beneficial insects is best.  Both recommendations are easier said than done, especially when dealing with acres of crops and large trees.

If you spot kill using insecticide, the Beatles will be killed on one thing and the rest will turn to their next favorite plant.  

Bottom line is there is no easy cure or answer.  Maybe we can hope they sweat to death!

(Top photo was web based)

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