Monday, July 24, 2006

Invasion

I can't believe I haven't posted in two weeks! Where has the time gone?

Our biggest news is that we have begun the battle with the Japanese beetles. Two days ago we noticed they were on our peach trees. When we went berry picking in the woods two weeks ago, we saw them on some of the wild rose bushes. I had hoped they would stay in the woods, but I guess the scent of ripening peaches was just too tempting. Luckily I went out to the peach trees two days ago to see if they were ripe. They are looking so big and red! We picked half the peaches, hoping they'd continue to ripen in the kitchen. The other half are still on the tree, and we're hoping the beetles won't get them all.

In the first battle of the war, we pulled the beetles off the trees and killed them. Yuck! Then we realized they were very slow flyers, and they usually fall down rather than fly away. Sometimes in mid-fall, they'll start to fly, but they almost never fly off the peach or the leaf when you disturb them. So, in the second phase of the battle, we are taking plastic baggies out there, holding the bag open under the beetle, and tapping the beetle so it falls into the bag! Works wonderfully, but it's time consuming.

Trying to do things organically doesn't leave us a lot of options. Because all the stores around here are sold out of beetle traps, we bought a replacement lure and put it into a yellow jacket trap. We were hoping it would work the same way. What we discovered is that the beetles swarmed around the bottle but didn't go into it hardly at all. After seeing hundreds of them on the jar and the picnic table where we sat the jar (didn't want it near the peach trees!), I decided to go put the jar next to the turkey pen yesterday afternoon. The turkeys feasted on Japanese beetles as the bugs swarmed around them. I started to worry that they'd explode! But it's a cheap form of protein, and the turkeys sure looked happy.

Last night, I was so excited to find only a few beetles on the peach trees. I decided to go check the apple trees, and as I started to walk across the front lawn, I realized the beetles had invaded the hedge out front! I took my plastic baggie and started catching them. Can you imagine a sandwich bag half full of beetles? That's how many I had! (Oh, yeah, I should also mention that they can't seem to fly out of the bag either. I think they have trouble flying straight up.) Luckily, there are no beetles on the pear trees, but there are signs of beetle damage to the very tops of the apple trees. So far, the apples are untouched. I think I need to get some of this kaolin clay that someone told me about. Supposedly makes the fruit unpalatable for the beetles.

This morning, I only found five beetles on the peach trees, so I am hopeful that our current battle plan is working!

2 comments:

gnightgirl said...

I just read that you can place bowls of soapy water beneath your plants and shake the beetles off of the plants into the water; they supposedly curl their legs in when they're disturbed, and drop.

I guess you'd need a big bowl under a peach tree though.

june in florida said...

Glad your back and winning your battle. The turkey trap was ingenious.

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