As we enter the summer months, there are a variety of pests of ornamental plants to be on the lookout for, but Public Enemy No. 1 for many homeowners this time of year is Japanese beetles.
If you haven't seen them yet, don't worry, they have been found in West Lafayette. Adult beetles are typically most active from late June through mid-August.
As with all pests, how big a problem they are varies from year to year. In most years, their infestation pattern is spotty; they will seriously damage one homeowner's landscape while other locations, sometimes very nearby, see little impact. However, we have had a few years when they were so numerous they became an equal opportunity defoliator.
Most homeowners will be familiar with Japanese beetles. They are about .5 inch long and metallic green and bronze with a row of white tufts (spots) of hair on each side of their bodies. They are defoliators and feed on a wide variety of ornamental and agricultural plants. Most feeding takes place between leaf veins, skeletonizing leaves.
Controlling Japanese beetles can be frustrating. When the population is very high, even rigorous chemical control doesn't really work. When you apply insecticide, the beetle must eat some plant material to ingest it. If populations are extremely high, even though many beetles will consume pesticides and die, plants become defoliated anyway.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.