“What insect is common to but not native of Alabama, and is occasionally know as a “skeletonizer”, a creepy adjective at best?”
Here’s a clue – if you have rose bushes or grape vines, you probably have a good idea of what’s coming, or is already here.
The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) is emerging and feeding in landscapes and gardens, leaving a trail of plants with leaves eaten away except for the veins and stems.
About ½” in size (a little larger than a Lady bug), with shiny copper-colored wing covers, metallic green head and thorax, the Japanese beetle is easy to spot as it munches through foliage of several common landscapes varieties. Roses (leaves and buds) are among its favorites, but crape myrtles, birches, grapes, strawberries, peas, and a host of others are targets for the beetle’s amazing appetite.
In this area, most recommendations are two-part: one to control the adult beetles and the second to control its larval stage, which takes place out of sight in soil near plants that adults are feeding on now.
Hand pick adults in the morning, dropping the slow-moving beetles in a pail of soapy water, or use one of several effective insecticides if spraying is a component of control.
Controlling the larval (grub) stage of the beetle supports a longer-term solution – you won’t see results as quickly as hand-picking adults. Milky spore, produced by a bacterium, is a biological control measure that attacks the grub stage, killing the juvenile form of this pest. Additionally, publication ANR 1250 from the Extension website covers a variety of materials that control the entire Japanese beetle life cycle.
Like most insect pests, Japanese beetle populations vary from year to year, some areas of metro Birmingham experience higher numbers than others. Watch out for the beetles, remove adults as quickly as possible before damage is done, and plan ahead for next year.
By Sallie Lee, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Contact Sallie at email@example.com.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. ACES is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce. Educational programs of ACES serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.