Rowe Apiaries - Japanese Beetles trap - Sophia Rowe

Japanese Beetles

The summer is all joy for our family. We take a month off from studies (we homeschool) in June, and try to do as much work on the garden as possible. June is when we have our harvest of strawberries, blackberries, sweet cherries and peaches. June is also the month of Japanese Beetle.
Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) eat everything. They eat our fruit, berries, flowers and rosehips. They eat all the foliage they can. They are the worst here, in the South, I think. A few years ago, I bought Garden Safe bug spray (for ants in the house). After mopping my floors, I put the mop bucket outside, on our deck, and left it till next day. When I came out next morning, I found the bucket getting filled with Japanese beetles. Not one or two, no: a couple of dozen of them. Hence, started my search for the cause of this wonder. After looking at the list of ingredients, I did a search on 2-Phenethyl Propionate and Japanese beetles. To my surprise there was only one obscure document (from .gov website) that connected the two… It appears to have been a well-guarded secret. So…

Every year, when the Japanese beetles come out, we put out traps with a little water and 1 tbsp of Garden Safe bug spray (the one that contains 2-Phenethyl Propionate). We replace the traps every 2 days. No other insect gets interested in the trap (unless we are having a drought and other animals are looking for water, in which case it is easy to put a water tray with some pebbles nearby).

There are a few things to remember: 2-Phenethyl Propionate is a volatile compound, which means that if I wanted to save money and store it over the winter, I would have to pour it into a glass container, because the compound would slowly evaporate. For the same reason, I should not be storing Garden Safe products (other sprays contain essential oils, by the way) in a hot garage… Another point to remember is that Japanese beetles are not very smart, so it is best to put the traps in a sunny location, next to their feeding/hanging out spots. In my case, it is next to the rose bushes, on the top of our Silkie chicken’s coop.

Talking about chickens… They have been enjoying their freedom in the front yard (with ducks), chasing green June beetles (Cotinis nitida). We used to have a very big problem with June beetles! Nowadays, few are lucky enough to land and lay eggs and not get snatched right away. Added bonus is watching the chickens and ducks chase June beetles and each other (after a beetle is caught) 🙂

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