Saturday, August 20, 2016

August Insect Invasion - Japanese beetles and likable fliers

Has it been a more noticeably buggy year in your garden?  Are you seeing more wasps, lady beetles or bumblebees this summer?  If you're answering no then perhaps you're at least seeing some hummingbirds and painted lady butterflies...no as well?  Then surely roly-pollies?

Here in central Denver and the Cahill residence it seems like an insect convention is going on, almost an invasion of flying objects in just about every corner of the garden. We even have plenty of ants - some are fliers. Let me get the worst offender out of the way first (you can search for many of my Japanese beetle blog entries). JBs are still in area gardens and they are hungry and horny. I often hand pick several couples a day right in the middle of their... well you know.  If you're tired of flicking beetles into soapy jars, try my home beetle brew, it sure beats a case of tired flicking fingers (and no lingering smell from the jar of soapy, dead beetles). This home concoction has not been scientifically studied or formally researched (that I know of). 

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Internet Photo
  • 1 teaspoon of cedar essential oil (sold at natural grocery stores, one ounce costs around five dollars and it will make several 32-ounce batches)
  • 3 tablespoons of soybean oil (very affordably priced) at H Mart, an Asian market in Aurora
  • Add to at least 32-35 ounces of water in a spray bottle, shake well and start spraying the little brutes.

Spray late in the evening, even past dusk when all the bees and beneficial insects we like go home for the night. I use the far-reaching target setting and hit the beetles several times, they don't like being sprayed with oily cedar (who would). They die off at some point because I see DBs (dead beetles) on our nearby patio or in the dog water dish, eeewww. We change it often. The spray doesn't have a long lasting residual effect on the plants, but good enough to keep down a larger invasion (at least this is what I'm telling myself). I haven't noticed burned foliage on the plants I've sprayed - silver lace vines, Virginia creeper (in the neighbor's yard, we don't grow it), roses, gaura, rose of Sharon, and coneflowers. If in doubt, spray a small section of your plant, then wait a day to see if there is any damaged foliage. I've been spraying adult beetles twice a week, soon I'll be treating our turf to kill larvae, but that's another blog (soon).

The likable fliers are really fun to watch this season.  If you read an earlier summer blog you may know that I designed and planted three new beds (still need to write the before and after blog). Anyway, I included many pollinator friendly plants, one bed is mostly Plant Select® plants. Broad-tailed hummingbirds visit at least twice a day finding the agastaches irresistible. The native, honey and bumble bees are flying, feeding and pollinating like there's no hurry to be anywhere soon.

I recently wrote a Denver Post Punch List article on what's flying in the garden. I mentioned paper wasps and the high numbers, at least in my garden. Thank goodness they aren't aggressive stinging types like yellowjackets, but my do they nudge around on so many plants. They must really be hungry!  Sometimes I actually want to say to all the fliers, hey, I'm walking here!  Sound familiar?

It's all good - a humming, buzzing hot summer. 

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