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Natural Beetle Control

Natural Beetle Control

Beetle, the common name of the Coleoptera, the largest order of insects, of which there are known to be at least 150,000 species. They have four wings but the outer pair are hard and useless for flying. They are useful, however, as a double piece of armor to cover the soft back of the insect. In some species these wing covers are beautifully colored and brilliantly marked in varied designs. There are minute, almost microscopic forms of beetles, and large ones which may reach four inches in length. There is no uniformity in shape, as some are almost globular, others flat and round; some are long and slender, other thick and broad. The mouths of beetles are fitted for biting and tearing, and in some species the mandibles or jaws are very large and strong. In some, the head is extended in a long beak not a part of the mouth. Beetles are found in the water, on the land, in flowers, and in the ground, in the homes of other insects and even living as parasites in other animals. No parts of the world are free from them. Even the waters of hot springs and the ocean make homes for them. Their range of food is as wide as their habitations.

Natural Beetle Control

by Michael O'Brien

Your lawn is fertilized for the spring, kept attractively mowed and trimmed and starts out as the pride of the neighborhood. Early June rolls around you notice that your beautiful lawn is starting to look less than healthy. Chances are that the grub stage larva of the Japanese beetle have invaded your yard and are happily munching on the roots of your grass. Later in the summer the landscape plants you have carefully tended to since the spring are dying off and appear to have been eaten. Those grub stage larva living in the soil under your lawn have reached adulthood, emerged from the ground and have begun making a meal of your plants.

So it goes for many those of us unlucky enough to have the prolific Japanese beetle invade our yards. Introduced to the United States in the early part of the Twentieth Century, the Japanese beetle has migrated to across North America. These flying insect pests have found a welcome environment in North America feeding on over 300 different species of plants and grasses, all in the absence of any serious threat from natural predators. The anatomy and habits of the Japanese beetle makes them an unattractive target for birds and other predatory insects. The larvae are safely burrowed in the soil and adult beetles have a hard outer shell. Turf grasses are a favorite target of these beetles and can do quite a bit of damage once they become established.

Controlling Japanese beetles takes a consistent effort and may take longer than one growing season. Even if you begin a control regimen in your yard, the beetles may find their way back if your neighbors fail to take action. There are several strategies you can employ to begin the process of controlling these destructive insects that do not involve the use of chemical pesticides. There are no guarantees when it comes to controlling Japanese beetles and you should plan for the long haul.

Early in summer, you may start to see the beetles on your outdoor plants. The beetles can be collected by simply picking them up and placing the beetles into a container of soapy water. Since the presence of beetles in your yard can attract more beetles, the more beetles you can collect the better. The earlier in the day the better is a good rule of thumb when it comes to collecting beetles.

Another non-chemical method are Japanese beetle traps available from your local nursery or garden center that can be an effective way to capture the beetles so you can dispose of them. One version of these traps uses a scent attractant and another version uses a sweet tasting bait to lure the beetle in to the trap. One drawback to using these traps is running the risk of attracting more beetles to your yard than you started with. If your neighbors are not collecting or trapping the beetles in their yard, neighborhood beetles by the hundreds may find the traps you set a powerful attraction. If you decide to try the trapping method, avoid placing the traps near landscape plants.

Still another non-chemical way to control beetles is to make your yard less inviting. A good start is to cultivate landscaping that beetles do find very appetizing, avoiding those plants the beetles like to feed on. There are several dozen species of plants available that can be used in an attractive landscaping scheme that the beetles are likely to avoid. Some naturally occurring soil bacterium can be applied that repels the beetles and your local farm extension service office may be able to advise you on this method of non-pesticide beetle control.

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