Japanese beetles return to wreak havoc on metro yards

If the Japanese beetles are gobbling up the plants in your yard and driving you crazy, you’re not alone. Plenty of folks across the region have complained that the shiny little bugs are nibbling away at their gardens, and the problem is not exclusive to the KC area.

The Japanese beetle is an invasive species, about a half-inch long with a dark metallic green head and tan wings. And roses are one of their favorite snacks.

FOX 4 Meteorologist Karli Ritter posted Monday morning about her frustration, and plenty of FOX 4 viewers chimed in.

This isn’t the first year that the Japanese beetle has run amok across the metro area. Last summer, FOX 4’s Abby Eden spoke to some of the lawn and garden experts at Ben’s Lawn and Garden to find out what you can do to keep them in check.

At Ben’s Lawn and Garden, they recommend you get traps — they just look like zip lock bags — but they attract the beetles, and they get trapped inside the bags, killing them.

There are also root treatments that are usually applied in the spring. However, some believe there’s not a lot you can do to treat the issue.

The good news is, the beetles shouldn’t kill your tree, but they will make the leaves look sparse.

“You’ll see leaves that look lacy. The leaf surfaces are eaten, and the vein surfaces are left behind,” says Ben Scire from Ben’s Lawn and Garden.

The beetles start as grubs in the yard, and some research shows they can kill grass by feeding on it in their younger stages.

But why are they so bad this year? Entomologists at the University of Minnesota (where the Japanese beetles are also out in full force) told MPR News climate change is also to blame.

“These cold wet springs we usually have kill them, and if you think about it it’s been getting warmer in the spring,” University of Minnesota Professor Vera Krischik. “As long as it’s above 50 (degrees), they can be active and feed on roots.”

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