Question of the Week
Answer: First, I encourage you to visit ATTRA's Biorational Pest Management Database. Here's the link to the entry for Japanese beetle: https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/biorationals/search_results.php?pestType=&pestName=Japanese+Beetle&actingredients=&tradeName=&Submit+Search=Submit+Search. As you can see, there are 20 products registered for control of Japanese beetle.
As you probably already know, several of those products target the larval or grub stage in the soil, and there is a huge problem with that—the adults are quite mobile and regardless of how many grubs you kill in your soil, there can be adults flying in from as far away as five miles.
The traps are similar in that they might trap your local adult population, but new adults could still fly in. However, my experience has been that if you are diligent about cleaning out the traps every day or two, or whenever they get filled, you'll make a lot of progress in reducing beetle populations. The traps fail when they aren’t cleaned out regularly.
There also are some homemade traps that work. I know that they work because they are my main method of control for both green June beetles and Japanese beetles. Here's a simple recipe found online:
Japanese Beetle Trap and Bait
The following bait and trap method is to be used during the height of the Japanese beetle season.
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 mashed banana
1 package yeast
Dissolve sugar and yeast in the water. Mix the well-mashed banana into the sugar water. Put all ingredients in a gallon milk jug. Place the jug (with the top off) in an area where Japanese Beetles gather. The fermentation and odor of the bait attracts the beetles, which get in but not out.
But my recipe is even simpler: put a few pieces of whatever overripe fruit you have in a five-gallon bucket, fill half-way with water, and place near the crop you're trying to protect. You can throw in a little wine, too. I scoop out the beetles with a slotted kitty litter shovel and stomp on them or throw them to the ducks and chickens. The chickens don't like the green June beetles, but the ducks do.
Finally, you will probably get the best results using a "push-pull" strategy. PUSH the beetles away from your crop with a pesticide or with the pest-repellent kaolin clay (Surround™) (again, see ATTRA's Biorational Pest Control Database for organic pesticides) and PULL them into your baited traps.
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