Eastern Iowans deal with Japanese beetles - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowans deal with Japanese beetles

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Memorial Day weekend is a time when many people dig into the ground and start gardening but a common pest threatens to destroy flowers and leaves. As trees begin to blossom and flowers begin to bloom, Japanese beetles emerge. The bugs have been a growing problem for greenthumbs in the past few years.

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

Dakins tells us the bugs present a challenge for gardeners in the spring and summer. They feed on the leaves of plants, crippling their ability to soak up sunlight.

"Grapes, raspberries, linden trees are one of their main dining delicacies," said Dakins.

Here's how to spot a Japanese beetle: They're about a half-inch long, with a green body and bronze wings. They can be found all over eastern Iowa. 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.

The beetles skeletonize leaves, as they eat between their veins. O'Malley says they have a taste for certain kinds of fruit plants and trees.

"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," said O'Malley.

There are many ways to deal with Japanese beetles. Garden stores sell beetle bags that lure the insects and trap them inside. Some insecticides are specially formulated to keep them away from food crops. Pre-treatment sprays are also available. Those should be applied around this time of the year, and will help deter beetles through the fall months. Typically, July is the month when the beetles begin to feed the most.

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