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Japanese Beetles Could Change What People Plant Locally

Garden Trowel

They might be small, but they’re causing big problems in the Ozarks. An invasion of Japanese Beetles is continuing in southwest Missouri, and that’s leading many local farmers to question the future. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes reports.

They might be small, but they’re causing big problems in the Ozarks. An invasion of Japanese Beetles is continuing in southwest Missouri, and that’s leading many local farmers to question the future. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes reports.

The metallic green beetle with coppery brown wings looks innocent enough, but for those losing money because of bug, they say it worse than you think.

“So far it hasn’t changed the type of plants that we’re going to do, but in the future it could.”

Eric Petty works at Myron Royce Gardens in Ozark. He says the Japanese Beetles destroyed many of the garden’s plants.

“The beetles we saw came in mid-June, early June and started to attack the Japanese maple trees but also all the fruit trees, [and] crepe myrtles. The Dawn Redwoods were especially hit this year,” says Petty.

Petty also says that the beetles seem to focus on one specific plant before moving on to another species. He says the most frustrating thing about the bug is the fact that there is no way of completely eliminating them. Myron Royce Gardens continues to spray their plants in hopes of containing the problem.

Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with the University of Missouri Extension says it’s safe to say there is no solution for dealing with the Japanese Beetles, but he says if you’re afraid to use pesticides there is a safer option.

“Neem Oil is one of many horticultural oils that is available to homeowners and it is an alternative product. It’s a lot safer than using a pesticide. It doesn’t have as long of a residual control though. That’s the one drawback to it, but if you don’t want to apply an insecticide I think Neem Oil is a good alternative,” says Schnakenberg.

Schnakenberg also thinks many people in southwest Missouri will make changes when it comes to what they plant. He says having to spray once a week to keep the beetles away will have many gardeners thinking twice before they put certain seeds in the ground. Besides attacking certain plants, the beetles also result in poor pollination of corn. On the up side, Schnakenberg did say that there’s no reason to believe Japanese Beetles could hurt anything beyond plants.

The University of Missouri Extension recommends that homeowners not use traps for the beetles because it tends to attract more of the insect than are actually caught. Some success can be found by using tight weave netting on susceptible plants during critical times.

Homeowners spraying pesticides should always wear protective clothing and read the label for specific instructions.

For more information you can visit our website: KSMU.org.

extension.missouri.edu/main/DisplayCategory.aspx

For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.