Japanese Beetles in Virginia

Japanese beetles were first found in New Jersey in 1916 and have spread from Maine to the Carolina’s. The Japanese beetle has been well established in Virginia since the early 1970’s. The Japanese beetle can be found throughout Virginia and populations are dependent on soil type, soil moisture, and host plants.

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Adult Japanese beetles are easily recognized by their bright metallic green body and reddish-bronze wing covers. It is smaller than the Green June beetle which is over 3/4 inch long, while the Japanese beetle is around 3/8 inch long. Japanese beetles feed on a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. They can severely damage the foliage for fruit trees, roses, and other summer flowers. The immature stage, also called a grub or white grub can reach pest status on many varieties of grass grown in Virginia.

Skeletonizing (seen in the photo) is caused when the adults chew on the leaves and eat between the veins leaving a lacy appearance. They will also feed on flowers, fruit and buds. Heavily damaged trees and plants will take on a brownish cast as leaves shrivel and die.

The immature Japanese beetles or grubs feed just below soil surface on the roots and lower sections of the plant. Damaged turf at first becomes stressed in appearance and later turns brown as if it suffering from drought. Damaged turf can often be pulled back like a piece of carpet exposing the grubs.

Treatment For Japanese Beetles In Virginia

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We do not recommend beetle traps, since they seem to attract more beetles to your favorite plants than they control. If you still want to use a trap, be sure to place it away from the plants you are trying to protect. For a more specific treatment based on your local conditions, contact us so one of our representatives can visit your property to make an assessment.

The Life Cycle of Japanese Beetles

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Adult Japanese beetles start emerging from the ground in late June and most are out by mid July. The beetles feed and the females start releasing a pheromone that attracts the males. Egg laying lasts from mid July to mid August. Immature grubs feed and develop until the soil starts to cool in the fall. At this point they burrow down about 4-8 inches and stop feeding. In the spring when the soil temperatures start to warm, the grubs move up and start feeding again. The grubs reach full size in late May or early June and pupate. Adult beetles emerge several weeks later and complete the cycle.

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