Japanese beetle

The Japanese beetle larvae develop in pastures, lawns, and other types of turf, where they live in the soil. Adults emerge in early summer and feed on blueberry foliage and berries, causing injury to the berries, as well as decay from fruit-rotting pathogens.

Organic growers use a number of methods to control these pests. Hand picking, trapping, milky spore disease, and/or beneficial nematodes have all been used by growers with varying degrees of success. The key practices are the use of milky

Figure 5. Japanese beetle skeletonizing a leaf. Photo used with permission. University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center.

spore (which provides a long term approach to larvae reduction), trapping away from the crop, and regular emptying of the traps.

Clean harvesting prevents the accumulation of overripe fruit, reducing the attraction for beetles. In a Michigan study, fields with tilled row-middles had significantly fewer larvae than those with permanent sod, and larval abundance was significantly lower on the interiors of the fields compared to the perimeters.(Szendrei et al., 2001) Clean row middles may have fewer Japanese beetle larvae, but they also leave the soil open to erosion, so this option should be used only on level fields.

Some botanical insecticides — such as rotenone — can legally be used even on the day of harvest according to current label restrictions; however, none have proven adequate for Japanese beetle control. Kaolin clay, available in the product Surround, can be used for suppression of the Japanese beetle only on blueberries that will be processed.

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