• What you need to know about Japanese beetles

    By Staff Reports -

    Japanese beetles have taken over Wilson County’s tree canopies once again. They cause significant damage to our plants and trees, which make them a real pain for people. If you notice frilly foliage or brown treetops, those are sure signs that these beetles have been chomping away. 

    Each year, they seem to come back with a vengeance. As is the case with most pests, you need to stop them in their tracks with the right tactics.

    What are Japanese beetles?

    These flying pests are nothing new in Wilson County. First detected in the U.S. in 1916, they have since spread to many states east of the Mississippi River. They are easy to identify with their bronze backs and metallic green heads.

    Starting in mid-June, you’ll see Japanese beetles emerge and eat plants through August. Besides devouring plants, they lay eggs that turn into grubs that eat lawns in late summer. Those grubs turn into beetles, and the whole process starts over again next year. 

    Why are they a problem?

    Japanese beetles attract other Japanese beetles. Unless you take care of them early on, an infestation is bound to happen. They have a few favorite trees such as ash, maple, cherry, birch, crape myrtle and dogwood. They also love roses, boxwood and holly.

    A tree may survive one season of foliage damage. But as the infestations get worse, trees will drop leaves prematurely or brown at the top.

    How can you protect your trees from them?

    Well-timed insecticide treatments can help kill the beetles before the damage starts. Only an expert should do this to ensure the safety of the trees and plants.

    If you only have a few beetles, pick or shake them off trees and plants and plop into soapy water. Setting up traps can help capture beetles but won’t help protect your trees and plants from damage. 

    For fruit trees, an application of neem oil will help repel and kill beetles. Also, remove all unhealthy or ripened fruit from your trees and the ground. 

    Additionally, you should destroy grubs to stop the cycle from repeating next year. Grubs are white c-shaped larvae, which are visible under the grass. Look for discolored or wilting grass; damage along sidewalks or driveways; or an uptick in moles, skunks or raccoons.

    By finding pests early and taking action, you can reduce infestations and protect your landscape.

    Ready to take on Japanese beetles? I’m here to help. Contact me or any of our Davey certified arborists by calling 615-254-8733 or visiting davey.com/nashville.

    Scott Johnson is the district manager of the Davey Tree Expert Co.’s Nashville office. Johnson has worked at the company for seven years and is an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist. 


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