Beetle battles can be baffling

Japanese beetles are one of the most destructive insect pests in the United States, including Kansas.



July 14, 2020 - 10:06 AM

Japanese beetles have become a yearly pest. They were first reported in the United States in 1916 and have since become established in many states, including Kansas. The adult beetle is one of the most destructive insect pests we face. 

The adult beetle is the most troublesome for the homeowner as it feeds on a wide variety of plants including rose, crabapple, birch, grapes and a whole host of other plants. They feed on leaf surfaces and will cause holes and in some cases, they will feed on the leaf tissue between the veins causing a lacelike or skeletonized appearance. However, it is the Japanese beetle larvae that is a major problem in the home lawn, golf courses, athletic fields and other turfgrass locations. They feed on the roots of turfgrass causing the grass to be unable to uptake water and nutrients. 

We typically start seeing Japanese beetles in June and they feed through late August. Japanese beetles are three-eights to a half-inch long. They are metallic green with coppery-brown wing covers and dark green legs. One distinguishing identifier is the white tufts around the abdomen area. These tufts actually look like white dots. The larvae are a white grub that looks very similar to other grubs commonly found in our area. It is actually very hard to tell the difference and would require looking under a microscope. 

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