Japanese beetles more of a problem around North Liberty, Iowa City this year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Japanese beetles more of a problem around North Liberty, Iowa City this year

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Anyone with a green thumb has probably noticed them crawling all over Eastern Iowa: Japanese beetles. Local experts say they're a bit worse this year around the North Liberty and Iowa City area than in the past.

Local gardening experts say Japanese beetles have been a problem in the Davenport area for more than a decade. As they slowly expand their territory, more people are battling the pesky bugs.

"They are becoming more and more of an issue each year because the population threshold is increasing," said Dan Dakins, manager of Pleasant Valley Garden Center.

He told us the insects target hundreds of plant species. "Grapes, raspberries, and linden trees are their main dining delicacies."

Japanese beetles are about a half inch in length, featuring an iridescant green body and bronze-colored wings. Dakins says the insects have been more of an issue in Cedar Rapids until recently.

Horticulture specialist Patrick O'Malley showed us the damage they've caused in his own backyard. "Raspberries are one of their favorites," said O'Malley, showing us one plant that had some eaten leaves. The beetles munch between the veins of leaves, turning them into skeletons.

O'Malley says they target some kinds of fruit trees more than others. "They're sort of like humans, in that they're very distinct, and they'll hit certain apple cultivars more than others. One they prefer is honeycrisp."

Dakins says there are several ways to deal with the beetles. Beetle bags lure the insects with bait, trapping them inside. Some insecticides are made to keep them away from food crops. Pre-treatment sprays are also available. Those are applied in May and June, and deter the beetles through fall.

The month of July is the beetles' peak feeding season, so they'll start to become less noticeable in the next few weeks.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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