Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Help with pest ID.... please!

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:

Photo source: Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

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!


Jacqui said...

Wish i could id them for you, but we are a continent away. have a look here

It may give you some more ideas.
I think Roses and strawberries are the from the same family.

Hope you get it sorted. xx

Erin said...

Hmmm, that's a new one, but they definitely are not Japanese Beetles. They look too large to be one of the varieties of flea beetles, but flea beetles do a lot of damage like that, and too slender to be a June beetle. In any case, I spray Neem Oil on Japanese Beetles to kill them, I find they they all cluster on my grapevines since they prefer that to anything else here, including the fruit trees, so at least when I spray I can concentrate it on one crop. Good Luck, Fiona! said...

Thanks for the link and your kind words - I'll look into this. While the garden is quite a sight, the upside is we have loads of beautiful cut flowers in the house right now and everything smells divine! said...

Erin -- thanks for confirming they're not JBs. I realized my mistake as soon as I saw they didn't have the metallic "finish" and white markings. I'll see if they are a variety of flea beetle, though you're right -- I think they're too big. Is neem oil ok to use with bees around? I've read yes and no...

Erin said...

You don't want to spray when bees are around, I wait until evening when the bees are not actively flying, and then I only spray the beetles themselves, I don't really indiscriminately spray the all of the grapes, although I'd have better success if I did, LOL - but my bees are too important! said...

Got it -- thanks, Erin!

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