For the past week at Birch Landing Home, we've been under attack - first by an absurd amount of Japanese beetles, and then by webworms! Yuck.
Read on for tips on how to combat these awful garden pests...
Earlier in the week, I went in the garden to check how everything was doing. I was greeted with THIS:
Japanese beetles were all over my beans, eating the leaves until there was nothing left. They were doing so much damage and I was not happy!
Unfortunately with Japanese beetles, when there's one he'll tell all his friends (via pheromones) and more and more will come. Obviously these beetles told everyone in the tri-state area to come and bring a friend.
The best way to get rid of them is to pluck them off by hand and throw them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. The quicker they're gone and not releasing pheromones, the less beetles will find your yard. Plucking beetles was not something I wanted to do, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Another popular solution is to put a beetle trap in your yard.. though some people argue that they can actually make the situation worse since they lure beetles to the trap (and therefore your yard). I was desperate though and figured I might as well give the trap a shot too. I made sure to put it away from the garden and away from where we usually spend time (the lure is poisonous, keep that in mind). Right away we caught quite a few beetles! I'm sure these first ones were in the yard anyways and not ones that we lured in.
We'll see if there's improvement.. I'll post an update on the Japanese beetles in a few days.
Webworms (aka Tent Caterpillars)
Then just when I thought I was getting a grasp on the Japanese beetle plague, I noticed webworm (also known as tent caterpillars) nests in one of our lilac bushes. These little baby caterpillars were already doing a number on the lilac bush, eating the leaves and smaller stems down to nothing. These buggers had to go too.
The best way to get rid of these is to cut out the nest if possible, and then destroy it. Luckily these nests were towards the ends of branches, so they were relatively easy to cut out. (If you have a nest that can't be cut out, you can tear the nest open using a stick and hope that some birds or other bugs find the little caterpillar snacks.)
Once the nest is out you can put it in a sealed container and throw it away. I didn't have any Tupperware or large jars I was willing to toss so I put the nest in a zip-lock, triple-bagged it, and threw it in the trash. Some people recommend burning the nest, which might be a good option if you have a lot of nests to destroy.
Another solution some people use is spraying the affected area with Neem. It kills the caterpillars and is considered an all-natural insecticide. I'm hoping that just cutting out the nests and staying on top of it will do the trick though.
The damage to the lilac bush has been done, but I'm optimistic it will bounce back. And in the meantime I'll keep a close eye on it in case any other webworm nests pop up.