It was late May when I first noticed them in the sumac.
Then they moved onto my beloved roses and peonies.
But when they attacked the strawberries, they made this fight personal.
Just a few days ago Ella help me pick a small, but beautiful, harvest of strawberries.
Now the patch looks like this. Decimated.
I've been calling these pests Japanese Beetles, based on their behaviour, the damage they inflict and the kinds of plants they favour, but now I'm not so sure. According to some of my reading, the front of Japanese Beetles are dark metallic green while their wings are a metallic dark tan. Also, there are two small patches of short white hairs on the rear and five white hair tufts along each side.
These pests are neither metallic, nor do they have those distinctive white markings, which are key identification features.
However, I have found many of these -- or something that looks like these -- in the ground, which are the larvae of Japanese Beetles:
So what are these? False Japanese Beetles? Mutant Japanese Beetles? Something else entirely?
Their bodies measure approximately 1 cm or 0.5 inches.
The photos are a bit dark but as these beasties are solar-powered -- they're sluggish when it's cloudy out and most active when it's sunny -- I had to photograph them in dim light.
I'm desperate to identify these as this year's infestation is much worse that last year's and I've got to take some action. I've read that there are a couple of treatments for Japanese Beetles, namely milky spore and/or beneficial nematodes, but if this is another kind of beetle, then that may prove ineffectual.
Any suggestions, advice or stories from your own garden/farm trenches would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!