Sour Grapes

June 29th, 2008

The change of seasons is welcome, and with the beginning of summer we find ourselves looking at the garden and landscape a little differently.  The plants are maturing and bring new flowers while the weeds try to march through everything.  The grapes are growing nicely on the arbor, and I think of using them for jellies or even wine someday. 


But the insects are also now out in full force.  We’ve been chasing fireflies and avoiding mosquitoes, and we just deal with bugs as a matter of course. But some of them are strange and pesky critters such as the Japanese Beetle.  I’m told these little beetles were not around this area until just a few years ago.  They apparently were introduced to the U.S. around 1916 on the east coast, and have spread a few miles every year.  Last year was the first we had seen of so many around our area, and they decimated the grape leaves.  The fruit just shriveled up as they sucked the juice from the leaves (see the little brown spots?) and the whole plant just withered.

Japanese Beetles

I’ve noticed them over many different plants this week, but they don’t have any natural predators apparently.  Does anybody know any good control techniques?  I’ve heard you can get a trap, but some people think that just attracts more of them.  I’ve also heard someone’s rooster liked to eat them, and someone else collects them by hand.  Ours are in so many places, and high and low, that I couldn’t begin to collect them all.  I did try spraying some tea tree oil soap on them… didn’t seem to bother them in the least.   I’m not inclined to use harsh insecticides around the house, so I’ll keep trying different things.

I suppose like many things we’re just going to have to get used to them.  Or maybe we’ll get those chickens next year after all!

4 Responses to “Sour Grapes”

  1. We’ve had them for four or five years now. I haven’t tried to eradicate them so I can’t help you there. I generally just leave them be and let them munch on the things that they like to munch on. They haven’t seemed to damage anything to the point of killing it yet. I have invested large amounts of time of sealing all points of entry into our house. After remodeling my basement and going though a multitude of caulking tubes, I think I finally succeeded. Instead of the hundreds that would be dead in and around the windows, I’ve only found a couple that probably came in an open door.

    Back when I raised pumpkins on a smaller level, I used to use talcum powder to keep beetles away. That was back before the Japaneese variety so I don’t know if it works on them.

  2. Thanks Ed- good thoughts. Someone also mentioned a powder type of substance that works. Strange critters, and that they’re new to many areas!

  3. Greetings,

    I popped over from Ed Abbey’s comments and have spent a bit of my lunch hour thumbing through your site. Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed it — the musings and the photos (The one of your dog and cat on the road together is priceless).

    I shall return.


  4. Welcome R. Sherman! And thank you for the kind feedback- it’s great to hear from folks as we share our small place in the world with everyone. Of course sometimes it’s like writing messages into proverbial bottles, sent into the void of internetdom… :)

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