Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My current nemesis

Above is an adult Japanese Beetle. These iridescent little vermin are native to Japan (duh). They first showed up in the United States in 1916. Since then, they have been working their way west out of New England. St.Louis is about as far west as the beetles are currently established in large quantities. The peak season for Japanese beetles is June and July. During that time, they can be incredibly destructive to plants in your yard or garden. Ironically enough, they're not considered pests in Japan because predators control their population naturally. Here in America, however, they run rampant.

This is the first year that I've noticed them in large quantity in my garden. While there are a number of different organic methods for getting rid of Japanese beetles, including a certain strain of Bt and Milky Spore bacteria, I've opted for picking the adults off by hand this year. The beetles give off a pheromone when feeding that attracts more beetles. If you pay attention, and stay on top of it, squashing the bugs as you find them seems to help keep their numbers from getting out of hand On a couple of occasions I've killed a dozen or two at a time, but more often than not it's only 6 or 7. It's worked so-so thus far, but if they are as invasive next year (which is likely) I may have to look into something else. You can also buy Japanese beetle traps, but studies have shown that they actually attract more beetles than they catch.
You can see how completely Japanese beetles will destroy the vegetation of a plant. This is what they've done to some of my Kentucky Wonder Pole beans.

Now the little bastards are moving on to some of my red Amaranth. Arrrgh!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I've seen small bunches of them on our blackberry bushes. And although I have never seen them in the garden, I am pretty sure they are the ones who have decimated my broccoli.