The Enemy is Upon Us

Popillia japonica, or the “Japanese Beetle”

What’s funny is that these guys are not a bother in Japan – natural predators control their populations to non-destructive, stable levels. Here in The States, however, they have taken the East by storm, turning entire mature trees into mere skeletons.

Did ya know that was a real thing? I wasn't just exercising my figurative language skills. "Skeletonizing" is when the bugs only eat the leaf tissue, but leave the vascular matter (or veins) in place. You've probably seen skeletonized leaves around, whether the skeletonization was due to natural decomposition or predation.

Did ya know that was a real thing? I wasn’t just exercising my figurative language skills. “Skeletonizing” is when the bugs only eat the leaf tissue, but – leaf – the vascular matter (or veins) in place. You’ve probably seen skeletonized leaves around, whether the skeletonization was due to natural decomposition or predation.

Apparently it’s a social species, because the more bugs on a plant, the more bugs will come. (They must function like we do on “going out nights”, texting our friends incessantly about any and all party locations.)

Olay!

Olay!

Control methods include hand picking them off of plants, especially in the morning, when they are less “alert”; they really are just your typical college kid in insect form.

But there’s no need to empathize with them, because, keep in mind, they’re destroying our plants, and don’t give a darn about any of us. I mean we’re probably not even very existent to them, so it’s not like they necessarily have something against us, but we’re simply not a factor in their lives. Do insects know about us until we interact with them? Do they talk about us? What might they perceive of us? Crazy it is, the worlds in which we impact so much — that exist all around us — yet are oblivious to human life.

Um. Anyway. For the most part they don’t make an appearance until the summer, so you may as well never see them. If you do find yourself around in the summer months though, come mid-July, you’ll likely see a happy clump or two (or a baker’s dozen) on our cherry, pear, and apple trees. Don’t be shy: give ’em a shove, and come back later for the pear, plum, or apple* that you saved the life of.

All the best for the rest of your day,
Rina

*Nope, not a weird lapse in fruit-name consistency. Because the not-yet-mature cherries were planted just this spring, they won’t be fruiting this summer. But hoping for the best, we will have the other three listed.

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