|Japanese beetle on raspberries|
The other day, I noticed a butterfly and a Japanese beetle sharing the same Agastache flower.
I didn’t get a good picture of them on the flower, though I tried to. The butterfly wouldn’t stay still. The Japanese beetle could not have cared less, though, and later I took a picture of two of the beetles on a raspberry leaf.
There are also Japanese beetles starting to chew holes in the leaves of other plants in the garden, including newly flowering zinnias in the veg garden and of course, the Knock Out roses in front because roses are one of their favorite foods.
For the past several years, there weren’t a lot of Japanese beetles around my garden and I was happy about that. I assumed it was because when we had the drought years, the adult beetles were having difficulty laying eggs in the dried up, hard ground. I didn’t get confirmation of that, it’s just my own theory.
Unfortunately, though, enough of the Japanese beetles seem to have survived to increase the population once again.
Many gardeners at this point would reach for an insecticide and start spraying to kill the beetles. Or put down a grub control to kill the Japanese beetle grubs in the ground. There was a time I might have done the same, but not now.
I like to think I’m wiser now. There is no insecticide that would kill the beetles and be safe to use around the butterflies and bees, which I want to encourage to thrive in my garden, so the Japanese beetles get a pass.
I could, of course, buy some of the beetle traps that are popular, and I’ve used them in the past. I read, however, the traps can lure in Japanese beetles who never knew your garden existed and those that don’t get caught in the trap have new feeding and breeding grounds – your garden. I heard someone suggest you should offer to buy them for your neighbors but that seems a little selfish, doesn’t it?
I also read you can just stand there and pick them off the flowers and plants and drop them into a bucket of dishwasher soap to drown them. That might be helpful but also might be like trying to take the salt out of the ocean. It’s tedious.
Plus, I am barely keeping up with weeding. Who has time to pick beetles off plants?
So, if I don’t use insecticides, don’t place traps around the garden, and don’t stand there and pick the Japanese beetles off the plants, what do I do?
I do nothing.
I leave the Japanese beetles alone, for the most part, and and endure their existence for the sake of all the butterflies and bees, for the health of my garden, and my health, too. Occasionally, when I go by a plant with Japanese beetles feasting on it, I might give the plant a big shake to scare the beetles, or flick the beetles off like a kid playing marbles, but that’s about it.
The Japanese beetles will be gone in a few weeks. And once they are gone, I’ll do my best to cleanup the worst of the damage they leave behind, hopefully surrounded by butterflies and bees, happily flying from flower to flower.
I can think of no other rational solution as someone who gardens for pleasure and wants to encourage bees and butterflies throughout her garden. Viva la butterflies and bees!