Sunday, August 07, 2011

Japanese Beetle Discovery

If you suffer from the Japanese Beetles, I wonder if you are noticing the same thing I am?
The don't eat natives. They like the roses, I don't know where their lineage is, I know some are Canadian and the multi-flora seems native??
They do not eat any native plant in my border!
Plants not touched:
Tomato Pepper Rudbekia Phlox Iris Daylily Annual vinca Pansy Petunia Viburnum Heuchera
Lily of the Valley Honey Locust Seven sons flower Peony Canna Begonia Mint Potentilla Sedum Evergreens
Ornamental Grasses Clematis Lilac Echinacea
The odd thing is, they do nibble on the zonal geraniums, but I find them dead under those! In the garden center, the geranium hanging baskets had a row of dead Japanese Beetles under them. Nowhere else did this happen. Then, the same thing happened at home. I found them dead inside the geranium pot and around the outside of it.
So, I looked around the internet for some more clues.
Guess what??

It's pretty simple: Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have determined that the flower petals of the common geranium can be deadly to the Japanese beetle.
In experiments at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Wooster, Ohio, within 30 minutes of consuming red, white, or salmon geranium petals, the beetles rolled over on their backs, legs and antennae slowly twitching, and became paralyzed.
They recovered within 24 hours, but here's the beautiful part:
Were this to happen outside the lab - say, on a golf course, in fields of corn, soybeans, or grapes, or in backyard gardens - the immobilized beetles likely would dry up, rendering them easy prey to ants, birds, toads, and moles.  from:
The USDA is working on a patent for a spray based on the geranium.
It's like the crack cocaine, they eat the geranium and become drunk and paralyzed, falling on their backs, unable to move. Scientists have studied this and noticed that even when "healthier" beetle options were close, they couldn't stop themselves, returning over and over, and getting polluted and eventually dying.
If I saw a beetle party on my geraniums and they were killing themselves on the drug, I would not stop them, to tell you the truth....

Another interesting beetle fact: Japanese Beetles attract other Japanese Beetles. If you can get out in the middle of July and knock the first wave down, either by the soapy water method or Sevin, you can certainly effect the future numbers of these devils.
So next year, when picking annuals, remember: Geraniums are the death of Japanese Beetles!!


  1. Sounds like interesting research with good possibilities.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Yay Geraniums! They are now on my "like" list of plants.

  3. Really? I can't believe what damage they have done around my house. They are even flocking to my marigolds ~ nothing likes marigolds. Good info.
    Connie (aka Lou)

  4. I like when they discover natural pesticides. I wonder if this affects other bugs too? Interesting!

  5. I'm having beetle parties on some of my roses. Really bizarre to see them piled on top of each other. Made a mixture of Murphy's oil soap, water and dropped some garlic in the bottle. It stinks bad but seems to work.


  6. That is absolutely fascinating about the geranium plants. Isn't nature crazy!

    In my area Japanese beetles do feed on natives. They went after my native sassafras and linden trees a couple years ago. But this year so far I haven't seen them in any numbers at all, I'm not sure why.

  7. This is so interesting. We don't have Japanese beetles here in the Pacific Northwest, YET. Eventually they'll likely migrate here. I love that there is a non-toxic method of dealing with them and that they can't help themselves. Serves them right, evil creatures. :)

  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog!! I'll hopefully get some good veggie gardening tips from you. My raised bed is looking sad :(

  9. Sissy, This is great information! This is our first year of having Japanese beetles and so far I've been hand picking and crushing or drowning them. Next year I need to purchase geraniums! And yes, they are on the roses!
    Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Very interesting info about geraniums. I went out this morning and they were all over the roses. I cut the flowers off and left the buds. I don't want them to enjoy my roses if I can't. Balisha

  11. Anonymous10:06 PM

    for so many years I fought the beetle war - they drove me crazy - just like the slimy slugs did in the past...
    now I try not to notice them, and I stay away from planting what they love...

  12. Very interesting. I'll need to try Geraniums next year. I've been battling them all summer - Roses are their favorite, but also Morning Glories. I've just tried Sevin, and it is working.


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