The Japanese Beetles are back. They disappeared for a couple of years. There was no noticeable destruction to my figs. This year late July and I saw them again. I don’t hate bugs. I say live and let live. For me the J. Beetles are more of a nuisance. I don’t like reaching over to get a ripe fig only to have a bug startle me. I don’t like them flying at me either.
They seem to cluster on one fig at a time. Unlike the Mocking Birds which will try one fig and if it isn’t ripe jump to another branch and try another leaving holes in the fruit. The birds will also leave fruit half eaten — not these Japanese Beetles.
The bugs are about 1″ x 1 1/4″ and are shiny and iridescent blue-green. Sweet, strong smelling fragrances attract them. They like sunshine, but I find them on the shadow side of the fruit.
They arrived in this country in 1912 in a load of Bananas on the east coast. They have been prolific and produced to spread across the United States. They will die off in winter. They will lay enough eggs in the soil to come back in full force the following year.
You can handpick them off your plants and drop them into soapy water. I’ve hit them with a strong spray of water and they take off. Which leads me to think if I put a bucket of water under them and shoot them with water they would fall into the bucket and no hand-picking of bugs. You could use chemicals but I prefer the birds come pick them off for me — which means I need more birds.
Japanese Beetles with also attack other plants in your yard as well, roses, other fruit trees. Japanese Beetles are also attracted by the pheromones of other existing, pillaging beetles. If you are lucky enough to have wasps, the wasps will attack the beetles. It is a circle of life.
You could avoid the beetles if you avoid planting the fruits and flowers that they are attracted to, I like most other gardeners still have faith and plant what we love and put up with the bugs.
If you choose a chemical route for the bugs you may also be killing birds as well who will feed off the beetles. I did this long ago with snails. Snail bait and cats, dogs and birds is not a good mix. Get a duck or two they love snails and do a great job on slugs too, they might even give you an occasional duck egg..