Japanese Beetles Almost Killed My Entire Garden

A week ago everything was going just as planned… Flowers in full bloom, apples growing, blackberries ripening. It’s been so hot that I haven’t been able to get out in the garden in full light for long periods of time to really keep an eye out for bugs. I wasn’t even very worried about bugs because I use Diatomaceous Earth all around my garden pretty heavily and up until a few days ago it was working wonderfully.

When you use as much D.E as I do, you look like this regularly!

Well July 3rd I was getting ready to go run some errands in the morning and I stepped outside and there was a swarm of giant flying bugs around one of my bushes! At least 50-100 of these giant bugs! It was pretty scary. I remembered I had Wondercide and Neem oil inside the house. I got a couple bottles mixed up and started spraying around the bush (from just inside the house!!). It helped a tiny bit. Definitely not enough to my satisfaction! So I had the kids go out the door on the opposite side of the house and I ran out the back door. I was dodging bugs left and right.. got in the car and picked up the kids down by the gate. We start driving and I can just see hundreds probably thousands of tiny beetles in the air. So we went to the feed store and bought some horse fly traps (I thought that’s what they were!). I happened to see a giant Japanese Beetle trap and figured I may as well get one of those too. Boy was I right to get ONE. So , later on it was sunset time, and I went out to water the apple trees because it’d been so dry outside. The swarm magically went away- probably because drenched it in neem, ceder oil, and diatomaceous earth! Well, if you could imagine….. I’m unraveling the hose (50 feet away from the apple trees) and I noticed a couple of my trees suddenly look like they’re dieing!! I started walking closer with the hose and I see hundreds, probably thousands of Japanese Beetles covering every inch of a few of trees!! Holy moly, it was straight Biblical. My freakout mode was activated. I start yelling for my husband. I grab the neem oil and started spraying the trees. Then grab a couple pounds of diatomaceous earth and started dusting the trees. It looked like it had snowed in July. I had to have my husband set up the Japanese Beetle trap because they started swarming me the moment I walked outside with it… I’ve never experienced that many swarming ME. They were in my shirt, on my eye glasses, stuck in my hair. It was flat out creepy. He got the bag hung up.

Completely full of beetles, day 2 we dumped them.. they filled up almost immediately again

I kid you not it was FULL by 7 am. So my husband dumped it. It filled half a grocery bag. Within an hour it was full again. I went and bought 3 more traps. I got home and set up the other 3 traps. 2 more on the fence (3 total on the property line) and one in the chicken coop). All 4 were full within an hour! So it’s the 4th of July.. mind you we have company coming in a few hours.. we dumped them again! So we were up to 9 bags full of dead Japanese beetles by dinner time.

Each bag weighs about 15 pounds

We dumped 3 of the bags again on July 5th. Finally the swarms are down to nothing. I realize we’re attracting a lot of extra beetles.. however, when you live in crop country aka the Midwest aka farming town and these farmers are using HELICOPTERS .. yes.. helicopters to spray pesticides you’re going to end up thousands of displaced bugs. Fortunately, it was only my apple and peach trees. Fortunately, I caught it the day it started. Had we been out of town, or the store been sold out of these traps we would of lost our small orchard that is finally going to give us our first fruits!

Granny Smith apple tree looks ok (diatomaceous earth is that white stuff you’re seeing), some limbs are bad most are fine!
45 pounds of Japanese Beetles from 3 traps in one day! We’ve trapped approximately 15,000 of these beetles in 3 days and I’m still trapping more!

The moral of this story is- you can do everything organic (neem oil, D.E) and some dumbass is going to spray so much pesticides that you will fall victim to their bugs. When it happens, you’re going to have to make a choice. 1) You can hand pick a thousand beetles off several 10 foot apple trees. 2) You can say “screw it! I’ve got to fight fire with fire- and use a pesticide that is not organic like sevin dust. That ought to do it?”. 3) treat your yard with milky spore to help NEXT year. 4) Trap em. Attract and trap. I chose option number 4 and I saved my trees. One might be a goner. But I believe the rest are going to survive this. So, my advice is this- you do what you feel comfortable with. In my case I felt I had to step up kill as many beetles as I could even if it meant attracting everyone on the next property over. Must be the fighter in me πŸ˜€.

I definitely recommend the Rescue! Disposable Japanese Beetle traps. You can find them at most home & garden stores or even on Amazon. I got 3 more via Amazon July 5th (was supposed to be here the 3rd of Julyso much for my prime membership grr!) I’ll probably set those out if we get another wave of beetles but I do believe that these little devils are at the end of their life cycle so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Either way, I’m feeling confident that I’m prepared!

I really hope this tree doesn’t die ☹️ Notice my traps are set about 25 feet away from the trees.

UPDATE

July 18: The Japanese Beetle population is nearly gone. I’m finding a few still on my coneflowers and roses but nothing crazy! Also I found some dead bugs so I took a picture of them! These are the bugs that were swarming my bush that scary day at the beginning of July! Introducing the Fig beetle!

Japanese Beetle next to a Fig Beetle, those things are huge!

Another update::

I believe two of our apple trees are dead. We had just planted them a few weeks before the Beatles came and the few leaves that they had werecompletely ate away. For the most part though our apple trees have survived and have grown back leaves.

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