Controlling Japanese beetles in Alabama

Published 6:10 pm Thursday, June 28, 2012

By Nelson D. Wynn, Regional Extension Agent

Adult Japanese beetles are 3⁄8 of an inch long and metallic green with copper-brown wing covers. Five tufts of white hairs that project from under the wing covers on each side and a sixth pair at the tip of the abdomen distinguish them from similar beetles. These tufts of white hairs appear as white spots when viewed from the top.

Japanese beetles usually begin to emerge from the soil by late May or early June. Flights peak in late June and early July and taper off by late July.

Adult beetles feed on at least 300 species of plants, including roses, other flowers and ornamentals, fruit trees, grapes and even poison ivy. They usually feed in groups and prefer plants that are in the sun.

Beetles feed on the upper surface of leaves, which results in a skeletonized appearance of damaged leaves. Beetles are daytime flyers and feeders.

Sometimes masses or balls of Japanese beetles can be seen on lawns or turf areas. At the center of each mass is a female beetle; surrounding her are males seeking to mate.

Soon after mating, females lay one to four eggs every three to four days. They lay the eggs 2–4 inches in the ground. A female beetle produces 40–60 eggs during her lifetime. Eggs hatch in about two weeks.