What can I do about Japanese beetles? Is this just a bad year for them? This is our first year to have a garden at our new place and these little pests are flocking to my garden. My bean leaves are in shreds along with my pumpkin leaves. They are now starting on my okra.
We feel your pain with the Japanese beetle outbreak this year. The past few years have been really tame and this year there are beetles everywhere. The life cycle of the Japanese beetle is 30-45 days. It lays its eggs in the ground a where it lives as a grub until next June when it will return to aggravate all us gardeners.
There are a couple of methods you can use to lessen the effect from the beetles. The first is the safest for all the pollinators since it does not involve using chemicals on the plants. Take a bucket, pail, or plastic cup with soapy water and pick the beetles off your plants and drop them into the soapy water. If you hold the bucket right under the beetles and tap the branch toward the bucket, many of the beetles will fall straight down into the water. You may need to make three trips a day to control the damage to your vegetables.
The second method is using Sevin in a spray bottle. Give the beetles a light spray as you see them. It takes very little Sevin to eradicate the beetles. Sevin is lethal to pollinators so avoid spraying the vegetable blooms. Sevin dust will work but it takes time for it to take effect on the beetle. It may eat a couple of leaves before it dies. Sevin spray is effective in seconds. Unfortunately these are the best treatments available.
Photo Credit: Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota. Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of Japanese beetles is to pick them off the plants before they do too much damage.