Japanese Beetles: I've given up

CatskillsgardenerMarch 19, 2014

Dear Gardeners infected by Japanese Beetles,

I love roses, and would like to have them bloom all summer, but after years of being ravaged by Japanese Beetles I've decided to rip out my summer blooming roses. I've given up.

Before I do this (so painful, such a loss of pleasure, work and money) I send this email. Do I jump or not?

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Is it possible to do as I've heard some posters describe--just write off the midsummer bloom. The minute a JP shows up, cut every bloom and bud in the garden for house bouquets and leave the JPs nothing to eat? Then when the JPs recede, let the roses grow and bloom normally?

That would give you a spectacular spring blooming cycle, a midsummer rest cycle, and another spectacular fall blooming cycle--which is a heck of a lot more than my beloved peonies and iris bloom, after all.

But I don't really know the answer since JPs are not a big problem in my area.

I assume you have tried all the standard fixes already? A number of posters have noted a major decrease in the JP hordes the past couple years--but I'm not sure if anyone has actually figured out how or why.

I sure hate to have you give up on something that normally gives you so much pleasure, but the frustration under the circumstances is understandable.

Kate

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 10:54AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Use milky spore or grub x on your lawn about every 3 years in the spring. It won't get rid of them all but it can reduce their numbers and save your roses.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 11:10AM
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lesmc

Please think more on this. I have ripped out roses with blackspot and regretted it almost immediately.I do what Kate suggests. I cut every bloom immediately during beetle season and enjoy or give them away. I do miss out on some but my fall bloom is glorious. I rely on day lilies, phlox and more to fill that 6 week period when my roses are cut back or cut for the house. Just a thought. lesley

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 11:35AM
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henry_kuska

In addition to milky spore, I use beneficial nematodes, and bird houses.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 12:03PM
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bellarosa(z5/IL)

Don't give up on your roses. We have problems here as well with JBs. Yes, they are a nuisance, but I love my roses too much to get rid of them. I cut a few of the flowers, spray some with soapy water and just enjoy the other beautiful flowers blooming in my garden.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 12:19PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

For three years had beetle attacks which destroyed every bloom and plenty of foliage as well. Nothing I did slowed 'em down.

Then, they were gone. The last three years there were hardly any.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 12:25PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Harry, you still have some of the ugliest pics of JPs I've ever seen!

Kate : )

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 12:28PM
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henryinct

The last 10 years we were in SW Connecticut JB's all but disappeared but were replaced by oriental beetles which are smaller and burrow into the rose and eat the base of the petals. Their cycle was late June to the end of August and they were every bit as bad as JB's. It's hopeless. Add midge and thrips and the necessity to keep spraying for BS and the result is that the effort you put into them in the summer just isn't worth it. But, on the bright side...none of that is a problem here in Pasadena. Which is one (but not the only) reason why we're here.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 12:56PM
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andreark

Dear Catskillsgardener,

I had 'black vine beetles' and the beneficial nematodes from
Orcon organics did a bang up job of eliminating them.

The nematodes are easy to apply and kill the beetles in the larva
stage. DON'T GIVE UP!!! Here is the link:

organiccontrol.com/

andreark

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 2:33PM
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litchfieldgardener

I suppose this is one of the best arguments for staying away from repeat bloomers (most of which are "modern" roses), and concentrating on some of the truly wonderful antique roses--most of which are finished blooming by the end of June (which is when the JB's first appear here in CT). But what a fabulous bounty all those centifolias and mosses are, when you have them! By the same token, I never even bother with tomatoes until my own crop begins in July. Then it's a tomato festival...until frost. As the Preacher saith: "For every thing there is a season."

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 2:35PM
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litchfieldgardener

I suppose this is one of the best arguments for staying away from repeat bloomers (most of which are "modern" roses), and concentrating on some of the truly wonderful antique roses--most of which are finished blooming by the end of June (which is when the JB's first appear here in CT). But what a fabulous bounty all those centifolias and mosses are, when you have them! By the same token, I never even bother with tomatoes until my own crop begins in July. Then it's a tomato festival...until frost. As the Preacher saith: "For every thing there is a season."

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 2:37PM
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Catskillsgardener

Thank-you all,

Harry's photograph is an accurate depiction of japanese beetles in my roses. Of course I love my antique roses and will content myself with those, until I move to Claremont! In the end it is best to garden towards one's strengths.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 4:08PM
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sc_gardener(zone 5)

yeah that photo is about right. If you look closely you will see holes in the rose foliage as well there. They also munch on the leaves, but not as much. I just cut off the blooms, if I can before the jbs get eaten. If not, just cut off and throw into a bucket of soapy water bugs and all to drown them.
After Oct. 1 the English roses bloom quite nicely, so I get a nice crop of late bloom roses that are unblemished.
I like the once bloomers too, but have a deer problem and the tips get munched off there is no old growth for the flowers:( The deer do not bother any roses in the summertime, only winter when they are desperate. The beetles like the antique rose foliage better, for unknown reasons. The foliage is skeletized by those bugs.
tried milky spore once, (zone 5) and did not see a difference. I am sure there is a specific best time to apply. And not sure when that would be. It was a waste of time for me. Also, I have a large yard (almost 1 acre), too much $ to do entire yard.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 10:49PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

One more for Kate:

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:42AM
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Maryl zone 7a

Those JB pictures are horrifying. Of interest to me in one of your pictures Harry, are what look like daylilies blooming. They seem not to be infested with the JB's. Interesting to me as RRD has hastened my transition more towards daylilies and away from roses. .......Maryl

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:36PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Bloody Hell - you really are another country - have no idea how I would react to those horrid things (especially as they seem to have a wide ranging diet)......take up embroidery maybe?
To think, I have just come back from my allotment where I have had to deal with the worst pest of all - fellow humans (and their sodding dogs) - my neighbour perists in tying her dog on one of those long leads....which wraps around my shrubs and devastates them - today, a 10 year old R.primula brutally snapped to the crown - yesterday, Wolley Dod's rose had 4 big canes snapped off (leaving just 2 left) - last week, 2 redcurrants bit the dust. I am going to ask her to tie the bloody thing somewhere else....and if she refuses, I am going to do something I have never before done in my life - grass her up to the authorities (dogs are not allowed on the plots).
I hate gardening in public, I hate the nimwits who faff around uselessly with their diseased plants and weedpits but mostly, I hate having to see or hear them being moronic within 2 feet of my treasured plot (yes, I am a grumpy reclusive gardener who vastly prefers plants to people). If the woods were not so far away and such a chaotic mess, I would abandon the allotment in a shot.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:38PM
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henryinct

In addition to everything else that made growing roses nearly impossible in the summer in Connecticut, the thing that was worst of all was that incessant heavy rain wiped out the June flush nearly every year the last few years we were there. If you think about all the work required to get a few short weeks of enjoyment of your roses you certainly have to wonder if it is worth it. I never fully realized it until I got to live here in rose grower's paradise.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:55PM
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Rosecandy VA, zone 7

We have a lot of Japanese Beetles here as well. Every year Mom and I go out into the mornings and knock them off into buckets of soapy water, and every year we have fewer beetles come back. Nematodes and other such remedies only help get rid of the ones that grow in your yard; others just come from somewhere else. I plan to put some plants that are supposed to deter the beetles near my roses and continue the "knocking them off and feeding them to the chickens" routine, but in all I'll probably lose some flowers every year. On the other hand, we do have some rose bushes (Mom doesn't remember their name) by the house that are only lightly infested with the pests. Another tree (I can't remember the name, but I can ask Mom if you want) is always as badly infested with them as your pictures-June Bugs also like it. You could try getting a "bait" plant and kill the beetles that go to it. Making sure you and your neighbors don't have those pharamone traps may also help (they attract more beetles than they kill).

Don't give up. If you're persistant enough you can win. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:20AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

Mary,

When fragrant roses are in bloom, Japanese Beetles ignore almost everything else. I recall Hollyhock blooms being an exception. And they did not seem to have much fragrance.

In the first picture you can see the daylily Hyperion. Its an old fashioned daylily with a decent fragrance. The JB's don't want it.

I want to repeat my main point to the OP: Don't let JB's run you out of the rose hobby. One year there are millions, the next year hardly any.

Maybe diligent collection helps. Soup anyone?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 11:35AM
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louisianagal(z7bMS)

I think birds help alot so do all you can to be bird-friendly.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 11:44AM
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sc_gardener(zone 5)

I wonder how our severe winter will affect the beetle population this year? We had -22F this year. And we had a frost quake, never had that before.
My prediction, no affect whatosever.
That bucket pic is very inspiring! I usually catch them and throw them into the river by us: fish food:)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:34PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Harry: One more for Kate:

Gee, thanks, Harry. You know what creeps that picture gives me, don't you!

Awful, awful, awful picture!

Kate LOL

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 1:22PM
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litchfieldgardener

Two things I've noticed about JB's: They always prefer to be in the hottest, most direct sunlight. Whether the host is a bud, a flower, or a leaf--if it's in full sun, it's a target. The second thing is that they have a powerful attraction to their own kind: On one rosebud cluster you may find so many beetles that they are literally falling over one another (orgy might be the right word), while an adjacent bud cluster will have none. This has to be explained as a sexual attraction; after all, that's their only purpose in life--to breed. As soon as the deed is done, the female drops to the ground below to lay her eggs. The only insecticide I've found effective is Sevin (aka carbaryl), but you have to be diligent: in high concentration areas, expect to spray every 3rd day or so. But the fact that the beetles do cluster together makes your job a little easier, or at least a little more focussed.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:23PM
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litchfieldgardener

Two things I've noticed about JB's: They always prefer to be in the hottest, most direct sunlight. Whether the host is a bud, a flower, or a leaf--if it's in full sun, it's a target. The second thing is that they have a powerful attraction to their own kind: On one rosebud cluster you may find so many beetles that they are literally falling over one another (orgy might be the right word), while an adjacent bud cluster will have none. This has to be explained as a sexual attraction; after all, that's their only purpose in life--to breed. As soon as the deed is done, the female drops to the ground below to lay her eggs. The only insecticide I've found effective is Sevin (aka carbaryl), but you have to be diligent: in high concentration areas, expect to spray every 3rd day or so. But the fact that the beetles do cluster together makes your job a little easier, or at least a little more focussed.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:25PM
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lexusnexus(7a)

The one tongue-in-cheek cure for JB's I heard once was to buy a trap and put it in your least liked neighbor's yard. Seriously, though, they are pain. I agree with lg above, Sevin worked for me as well. Hate using chemicals, but hate the bugs even more.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:46PM
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kidhorn(7a MD)

Merit works really well as does cigarette butts soaked in water. Milky Spore is a waste of time and money unless you can cover several acres around your property. As was stated earlier, they can fly.

JBs are off and on here in Maryland. Some years they're really bad, some years I don't notice them.

I think cold weather will lessen them since I remember reading that hard ground prevents grubs from moving and feeding on grass roots. Dry soil likewise causes problems.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 1:35PM
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terri1335

I do not want to damage the birds and insects with chemicals and the bags do not works
1)Have had success with mesh fabric purchased at fabric store. I sewed two large pieces together and placed over my Hydrangea at the first sight of japanese beetles. I anchored it down to ground with heavy rocks so the wind would not blow if off. You can also use the tension close-pins. Leave on for two weeks(actually I did three cause I went on vacation) and then throw in your washing machine,line dry and save for next year. They say that the time to discourage beetles in your yard is when they are scouting the best eating and by the time you take the netting off the beetles have moved on. I still have to pick off some beetles twice a day,but there are much less and plants look alot better.
2)Put the Grub-ex down on your lawn between sometime June 26 thru July 15 and make sure rain coming or water in well. Sunlight will lessen effects.
3)They say the Milky Spore works-never tried it
4)Plant stuff that beetles do not like. Local extension can give you the list. I got rid of the roses

Happy Gardener

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:15PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

LOL @ Harryshoe on one more for Kate...lol
Man those are some gruesome Jb pics...

Catskillsgardener, I hope they go away and leave you alone! Best wishes!

This post was edited by jim1961 on Wed, Aug 6, 14 at 22:48

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:46PM
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sam 4b Adirondacks

Bird bath filled with water everyday.
Compost dirt and Suet, Birds will eat them.

This post was edited by sam4949 on Thu, Aug 7, 14 at 22:45

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 9:26PM
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summersrhythm_z6a

Why don't you use Sevin? It works like a magic, it will kill all the bugs within 30 secs. You can spray it once a week.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:12PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

I have too many bees to use Sevin where anything is blooming.

I do really hate the JBs, though. They are still here, and June bug season is almost over ! Someone should get a picture of JBs everywhere with the big, shinier green June bugs sitting on everything, too! It's a sea of iridescent scarab beetles, lol.

I was cutting the rosebuds off in the summer, but now that the JBs hit my new orchard, I'm leaving the roses to attract them away from eating all the leaves off my fruit trees. The roses and crepe myrtle trees are far away from the orchard.

I even had a neighbor's free-range rooster cross a dangerous road to come eat bugs in my yard; I do have a bit of everything here ;)

I noticed that the JBs really liked a young Virginia creeper and Poke plant (weeds) growing in full sun kind of near some roses. I might use those as trap crops (with no blooms) and hit those with Sevin. I might even put a chemical trap way down near the woods-line. I already have so many, I don't think I'll have much problem attracting all the JBs in the neighborhood. I already do!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:04AM
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martinca_gw

Henryinct
Salt in the wound?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:53PM
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sammy_lu

I live in the suburbs of Chicago and for years the JP's destroyed EVERYTHING I planted. We tried traps and caught buckets full but the next year was always even worse. Then I discovered milky spore--hallelujah! That spring I put it down really early and had lots fewer of the critters. The next year I think I counted about six, and this year I haven't seen any. It works its' way into the soil, the grubs eat it and then they die. Best part is, it keeps spreading under the soil. I will put it down again next spring to be safe but it is easy and, for me, amazingly effective. I put it down in my vegetable garden as well and all around wherever I had plantings. Give it a try.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 8:53AM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Man Harryshoe JB lollipops or what... :-/

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 10:41AM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

Jim, thanks for that comment, my stomach is now heaving......you guys are bad boys!

Ingrid

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 4:20PM
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henry_kuska

Someone asked why don't you use Sevin?

Maybe the answer can be found in this article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbaryl

Here is a link that might be useful: link for above

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 5:41PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Sorry Ingrid! Me is bad...

I remember seeing lots of Jb's years ago but have only seen a handful in the past 10+ years...

So this thread is interesting in case I need to use some of these ideas in the future...

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 8:12PM
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