How can something this beautiful…

12 09 2007

…be so destructive? I know when I first sent this photo out to Debbi (our resident Rose Queen), she probably passed out in shock when she saw it. One must admit that they really are beautiful, despite how destructive they are. I’m happy to report that I have never seen one in my own garden (and therefore I don’t have to deal with critter elimination!).

japanese-beetles.jpg

© 2007 Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Popillia japonica is a beetle about 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) long and 1 cm (0.4 inches) wide, with shiny copper-colored elytra and a shiny green top of the thorax and head. It is not very destructive in Japan, where it is controlled by natural enemies, but in America it is a serious pest to rose bushes, grapes, crape myrtles, and other plants. These insects damage plants by eating the surface material, leaving the veins in place, producing a curious, but alarming “transparent leaf” effect on its victims.

For more photos of this insect, visit http://bugguide.net/node/view/473/bgimage

Excerpt below from The Urban Pantheist.

In 1916, America’s most densely populated state (New Jersey) became the first place in North America where a certain exotic Asian scarab beetle was found. This beautiful but destructive animal is now well-known to gardeners in the eastern states, and is becoming familiar in more places every year. Increasing amounts of regulation and use of biological controls (a bacterium and parasitic wasps) are the official weapons in use against the Japanese beetle. Still they seem to have a robust population in areas where they occur, including urban centers that have the plants the adults feed on (over 400 species documented) and grassy soil for their grubs to overwinter in. And they continue to spread, being found in San Diego for the first time in 2000, and at an airport in Montana in 2002.

Japanese beetles are often encountered in what appears to be mating groups. Females produce sex pheromones that attract many males, who compete for the opportunity to mate in large clusters. According to one researcher, relatively little mating actually occurs in these groups. Males will guard their chosen female from other males until she is ready to lay her eggs. At least while clustered, they can be easily picked off of plants.

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