I'm not sure if this question is best for the Landscaping site or the Gardening site but here goes.
My husband and I just moved into our new house. There is a tree infested with Japanese beetles. We are told we will have to cut it down to prevent infestation into other areas of the yard. Is this true? Can we get rid of the bugs some other way or is this tree doomed?
We don't know what the tree is yet. I will do some research and try to post pics later. It is smallish (not quite my height). To me, it looks like a decorative landscaping tree.
Back when I was a teenager we had TONS of these things around - but to be honest I haven't seen them at all really as an adult. Maybe it's because I live in a nearby state that just isn't as prone to them. I'm not sure. I know as a teen we had these yellow bags that we put everywhere and they would catch tons of the beetles, but I'm not sure that it ever "solved" the problem.
To my knowledge, the best longterm cure for Japanese beetles is the Milky Spore disease. You buy the inoculant in garden supply stores and spread it around your lawn where it goes into the soil and infects the beetle larvae where they live under the grass. It is natural and specific to Japanese beetles, and remains in the soil for years. Of course, it won't help this year's infestation but you know that the beetles will be back again next summer if you don't do something about them. Meanwhile you can try some of the beetle traps that are on the market for this year's problem, and hope that the tree will have enough vigor to make it through this attack.
I saw some of those yellow traps in use just last week, so they are still on the market. I think they used to be called "Bag a Bug" or something like that. I'm sure you could find them at one of the large home centers. I used to use them when Japanese Beatles attacked my roses and they did seem to help. It would be worth trying.
I'm always hesitant to use "bacterial warfare" with bugs since I read somewhere that BT, which was touted as a cure all for bad bugs, has been partially implicated in the disappearance of bees.
I have seen trees that were completely stripped of all leaves by gypsy moths come back after th attack was over, don't give up on your tree yet!
Thanks so much for the tips everyone. We aren't cutting the tree down. I found out it is a flowering willow, which apparently these bugs really love. We're considering the bags and possibly a soapy water method I found several places on the internet.
At least we are more informed for next year. We were told that the Japanese beetles hate forsythia bushes, so we are thinking of planting at least one of these.
If the garlic soap water worked for beetles, you might want to try this product - Mosquito Barrier. We have used it for about 4 years now with great results. It's a concentrate, so 1 bottle lasts quite a while. It's natural and safe for children, pets and fish. We mix it with a little canola oil and baby shampoo and spray the yard, bushes, fence, everything. The smell is a bit intense, but dissipates in about 20 minutes. I checked the label and it doesn't say anything about other pests. But if your beetles don't like garlic, this stuff would send them running and take care of mosquitoes as well.
In reference to the Japanese Beetles...We were fortunate enough to be blessed with a family of (4) skunks last winter. We found small holes dug throughout the yard until finally one night we found out what was making the holes. Skunks! But what were they eating? Japanese beetle grubs. We found we can deal with the skunks since they don't come around while we're outside. This last season was the first year we got through without being swarmed by Japanese beetles. Sure we had maybe 20-30 (seriously) that I remember all season long. I'm just hoping the skunks left a few beetles to breed so they'll be back this year to eat more grubs. Haven't seen the skunks lately though I was seriously considering the Milky Spore until the skunks came along. If you're out in the country and don't mind a few skunks running around your place in the evenings, maybe you can call animal rescue in the city and ask them if they ever have to remove some skunks from the city that they do so to your place. I'm not eccentric, I promise...I just like simple solutions
Here is what you should know about the Japanese Beetle traps-they attract the beetles in order to capture them. So the best way to use them is by placing them someplace other then your yard. And I'm quite sure your neighbors will not appreciate you putting them in their yard. Just pick the beetles off and put them in a soapy solution to kill them if you are too squeamish to crush them. They will not kill your tree one way or the other. And look into beneficial nematodes to control the grubs that become the beetle.
Unfortunately, with topical sprays which is what you need to use, the beetles do a lot of damage before they either decide they don't like the taste or they die. I found that they don't thrive around geraniums. Perhaps planting geraniums around your other flowers and shrubs might help.
The only way to get rid of the adults is to trap them and kill or spray. Now, at this time, put down Milky Spore( a powder form)around all plants. This goes into the ground and the bacteria destroys the developing grubs of the Japanese Beetle. Next spring you will only have a few. It needs to be repeated every 3-4 yrs. It also destroys iris borer grubs as well as other grubs. I've used for 10 years.
We take forum safety very seriously here at BellaOnline. Please be sure to read through our Forum Guidelines. Let us know if you have any questions or comments!