Aaron's Expert Center

INSECT / JAPANESE BEETLE GUIDE

Insects
Keep insects and disease under control. We apply two to five applications of a foliar spray to control problems all season long. Insects and diseases can create severe damage for landscape plantings, especially, Crab Apple, Hawthown, Linden, Birch and many others. Treatments are applied from after bud break to mid to late summer. This controls and or prevents insects such as Japanese Beetle, Tent Caterpillar, Saw Fly and Gypsy Moth Larvae, Powdery Mildew, Black Spot, Apple and Quince Scab, and many rusts.
Insects

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JAPANESE BEETLES

STOP THE BUGS!

Do your trees / shrubs have iridescent green / brown beetles, and leaves that look like lace? Japanese's beetles will excrete pheromones, signaling others to come destroy more of the foliage they prefer. We can stop damage now, and just 1-3 treatments a year can prevent this and many other common insect and disease problems. We can stop out in just a couple days to spray or inject your trees and shrubs.

Click here a list of trees and shrubs the Japanese beetle prefers to eat.

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Japanese Beetles feeding on a Birch leaf

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Distribution

This imported pest is generally found east of a line running from Michigan, southern Wisconsin and Illinois, south to Alabama. Occasional introductions are made into western states such as California and Oregon when the adult beetles or larvae are shipped in commerce. The original population was detected in New Jersey in 1916, having been introduced from Japan.

Hosts

The adult beetles are general herbivores and are known to feed on over 400 species of broad-leaved plants, although only about 50 species are preferred. The grubs will also feed on a wide variety of plant roots including ornamental trees and shrubs, garden and truck crops, and turfgrasses. They seem to especially relish Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescues and bentgrass.

Damage Symptoms

The adults are skeletonizers, that is, they eat the leaf tissue between the leaf veins but leave the veins behind. Attacked leaves look like lace that soon withers and dies. The adults will often attack flower buds and fruit. The grubs can kill small seedling plants but most commonly damage turf. The turf first appears off-color as if under water stress. Irrigating causes a short-lasting response or no response at all. The turf feels spongy under foot and can be easily pulled back like old carpet to reveal the grubs. Large populations of grubs kill the turf in irregular patches.

Description of Stages

The life stages of the Japanese beetle are typical of white grubs.

  • Eggs: The white oval eggs are usually about 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) long and 3/64 inch (1.0 mm) wide. They are placed in the soil where they absorb moisture and become more roundish.
  • Larvae: The larvae are typical white grubs that can be separated from other soil dwelling white grubs by the presence of a V-shaped series of bristles on the raster. First instar larvae are about 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) long while the mature third instars are about 1-1/4 inch (32 mm) long.
  • Pupae: The pupae are first cream colored and become light reddish-brown with age. The average pupa is about 1/2 inch (14 mm) long and 1/4 inch (7 mm) wide.
  • Adults: The adults are a brilliant, metallic green color, generally oval in outline, 3/8 inch (10 mm) long and 1/4 inch (7 mm) wide. The wing covers are copper-brown and the abdomen has a row of five tufts of white hairs on each side. These white tufts are diagnostic. The males have a sharp tip on the foreleg tibia while the female has a long rounded tip.

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The Japanese beetle
adult--an attractive pest.

A typical cluster of
Japanese beetle eggs.

Japanese beetle
larva.

Japanese beetle
pupa.

Life Cycle and Habits

Larvae that have matured by June pupate and the adult beetles emerge from the last week of June through July. On warm sunny days the new beetles crawl onto low growing plants and warm for a while before taking flight. The first beetles out of the ground seek out suitable food plants and begin to feed as soon as possible. These early arrivals begin to release a congregation pheromone (odor) which is attractive to adults that emerge later. These odors attract additional adults to gather in masses on the unfortunate plants first selected. In cool weather, the adults may feign death by dropping from the plants but normally they will take flight. Newly emerged females release an additional sex pheromone which attracts males. The first mating usually takes place on turf with several male suitors awaiting the emergence of a new female. Mating also is common on the food plants and several matings by both males and females is common.

After feeding for a day or two, the females leave feeding sites in the afternoon and burrow into the soil to lay eggs at a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Females may lay 1 to 5 eggs scattered in an area before leaving the soil. These females will leave the following morning or a day or two later and will return to feed and mate. This cycle of feeding, mating and egg laying continues until the female has laid 40 to 60 eggs. About 95% of a population are generally laid by mid-August, though adults may be found until the first frost of fall.

If the soil is sufficiently moist, eggs will swell in a few days. Egg development takes only 8 to 9 days at 80 to 90 degrees F or as long as 30 days at 65 degrees F. The first instar larvae dig to the soil surface where they feed on roots and organic material. If sufficient food and moisture are available, the first instars can complete development in 17 days at 78 degrees F or as long as 30 days at 68 degrees F. The second instars take 18 days to mature at 78 degrees F and 56 days at 68 degrees F.

While this development is occurring, grubs may tunnel laterally in search of organic matter and fresh roots. This creates a very spongy feel to the soil and turf. Generally most of the grubs are in the third instar by early fall and are ready to dig into the soil to hibernate. The grubs burrow 4 to 8 inches into the soil as cold temperatures arrive. At this depth, the soil rarely gets below 25 degrees F and the grubs survive with no difficulty. If the soil begins to cool further, the grubs may dig deeper. The grubs return to the surface in the spring as the soil temperature warms. Generally the grubs can be expected to be active at the surface when the surface soil temperatures are about 60 degrees F, usually in mid-April. The grubs continue their development in the spring and the few second instars seem to mature in time to pupate along with the third instars. The mature grubs form a pre-pupa in early-June. The prepupa voids its gut contents and has a translucent appearance. The pupa is formed in the split skin of the pre-pupa in an earthen cell 1-to-3 inches in the soil.

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Japanese beetle life cycle

Susceptible and Resistant Flora

Plants Resistant to
Adult Japanese Beetle Feeding

Plants Susceptible to
Adult Japanese Beetle Feeding

Primary:

Primary:

1. Magnolia

Magnolia sp.

1. American linden

Tilia americana

2. Redbud

Cercis sp.

2. Crabapple

Malus sp.

3. Dogwood

Cornus sp.

3. Apple

Malus sp.

4. Red maple

Acer rubrum

4. Japanese maple

Acer palmatum

5. Northern red oak

Quercus rubrum

5. Norway maple

Acer platanoides

6. Burning bush

Euonymus alatus

6. Rose

Rosa sp.

7. Holly

Ilex sp.

7. Crape myrtle

Lagerstroemia sp.

8. Boxwood

Buxus sp.

8. Pin oak

Quercus palustris

9. Hemlock

Tsuga sp.

9. Birch

Betula sp.

10. Ash

Fraxinus sp.

10. Plum, Apricot,
Cherry, Peach

Prunus spp.

Secondary:

Secondary:

1. False cypress

Chamaecyparis sp.

1. Black walnut

Juglans nigra

2. Yew

Taxus sp.

2. Willow

Salix sp.

3. Juniper

Juniperus sp.

3. Grape

Vitis sp.

4. Arborvitae

Thuja sp.

4. Horsechestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum

5. Spruce

Picea sp.

5. Althea

Althea sp.

6. Pine

Pinus sp.

6. Asparagus

Asparagus officinalis

7. Forsythia

Forsythia sp.

7. Highbush
blueberry

Vaccinium corymbosum

8. Lilac

Syringa sp.

8. Sassafras

Sassafras albidium

9. Clematis

Clematis sp.

9. Virginia creeper

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

10. Sweetgum

Liquidambar styraciflua

10. Summersweet

Clethra sp.



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