KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family.
Out of the ground they came, not one at a time but clutching each other as in fear or solidarity. It took me a while for my mind to register on what it was witnessing. Curiosity, then, um, gulp, dread. The Japanese Beatle was resurfacing. Years ago, I had witnessed ‘june bugs’ make their mass exodus when the twilight passes to night. As a child I wondered at the function of this particular clumsy bug. They would interfere with pool parties yet other damage was not known to me at the time. After all, I was not a gardener and by the dawn’s early light all evidence of this flying mini-blimp had all but vanished.
The Japanese Beatle is another story. They live to eat and breed. Even in pre-emergence state they wreak havoc on the lawn. Not one to go into details, I hate most bugs and insects. The thought of life cycles, well, lets just say I choose not to think. Perhaps not the wisest practice of a gardener. I deal with the situation without much thought. This is not to say I am not aware of the environment, beneficial insects and mankind. Yet I am not totally an organic gardener.
Long before it was easy being green, I was practicing safe (in)sects. Milky Spore!
During my horticultural studies I was told that Maine was not the optimum environment for the Milky Spore. Soil must be 65° to work. All I know it worked for us. Long before we ever saw a Japanese Beatle, our lawn was dying. Not only did it have brown spots where the grass was eaten from the bottom up, we had holes from the skunks digging to find the (yuck) grubs.
Our lawn was small, the garden large. We had dogs and I enjoyed the feel of lush grass between my toes. We wanted to use something we would all feel good rolling around in. Ok, perhaps not actually rolling around, yet something that wouldn’t cause damage to us.
Milky Spore is a naturally occurring host specific bacterium (Bacillus popillae-Dutky). It is said Milky Spore is will not harm beneficial insects, birds, even if they eat the grubs, pets or humans. Bees are also not effected. Well or natural waterways are also out of harms way. The bacterium is ingested by the grubs. The rest is history.
Research indicates that the Milky Spore remedy may take 3-5 years. This did not seem to be the case with us. It is critical that one is consistent in the application; Spring, August and fall. For the spring application, it is said to count back approximately 6 weeks from when the first Japanese Beatle was noticed. We would apply ours in late April/Early May. August is the time when the beetles start laying there eggs and fall for when the grubs start feeding.
In all instances, whatever it is you use for your Integrated Pest Management, (IPM, the practice of preventative common sense approach to pest control) apply per the directions on the manufacturer’s packaging.
The benefits of Milky Spore continue to be debated, including the one I had a couple of years ago in one of my gardening classes. I do not promote, or oppose. I just know what worked for my personal gardening needs.
Most of the gardens I tend to have a separate service to tend to their lawn needs. Most do apply some kind of insect and grub control. As we look to ways to be less chemical, more natural some people are shying away from any controls. There are products that do work. As always check with your local nurseries or garden centers. Also make sure that anyone who is treating your property be licensed to do so.
In addition to my Milky Spore remedy, I do apply a systemic feeding system. Not organic, yet when applied according to package directions it diminishes the need to use sprays. At this time of the year I avoid spraying.
If you find yourself in a situation that spraying is necessary, please make sure that the sprays are applied early in the day. Avoid the heat and hot sun of mid-afternoon. Foliage burn can occur otherwise.
Another hotly debated topic, Beetle Bait traps. They work. They do attract. My theory, why attract what I do not want. You decide………….
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
July 14, 2008