Aaugust 26, 2010
A couple of days ago I posted about velvetleaf that is considered a noxious weed in some locations. I noticed that despite a bad reputation with reducing yields in cash crops that my peppers didn't seem to be adversely affected by the velvetleaf in the beds. I have been pulling before the velvetleaf was able to flower. Upon closer inspection it appeared that a couple of damaging insects were targetting the velvetleaf yet leaving the peppers alone. Yesterday I spotted a Japanese beetle happily feeding away on the velvetleaf yet there was no damage to the peppers.
Japanese beetles are rather destructive garden pests. I've dealt with them in the past where they mainly attacked my pole beans. They eat the foliage of the leaf leaving the veins behind so the damage is quite noticeable. If you see this type of damage on pole beans or other plants including ornaments this is one of the critters to look for.
The female Japanes beetle burrows into the soil in garden beds and lawns where it lays its eggs. The larval stage spends about 10 months underground. Once the adult emerges from the pupate the damage begins in the garden. Brown spots in the lawn during growing season can indicate the presence of the Japanese beetle larva so check the out edges of any brown spots in the grass and treat or destroy the larva. In the larva stage Bacillius thuringiensis (Bt) is effective applied as an insecticide to the grass. Japanese beetle traps may or may not be effective as there is some evidence that they actually attract these pests bringing more into the garden.
My method of controlling Japanese beetles is to knock them off the leaves into a tub of soapy water in the early post dawn hours of the day when they are a bit sluggish. Manual control is quick, easy, effective and low cost. If the infestation is large plant chives, garlic, tansy or catnip as companion plants to those plants the Japenese beetle are damaging. These plants naturally repel the Japanese beetle.