Japanese beetles are one of the most destructive pests in the United States. They feed on over 300 species of plants, including roses, grapes, beans, and corn. They can cause significant damage to crops, gardens, and landscapes. Fortunately, there are natural ways to control these pests by using their predators.
Japanese Beetles: What are They?
These tiny insects, known as Japanese beetles, are a shiny metallic green and have coppery wing covers. They are native to Japan, but were accidentally introduced to the United States in 1916. They have since spread to most of the eastern and central states, as well as some western regions. They are active from June to August, and can fly up to several miles in search of food.
What Eats Japanese Beetles?
Japanese beetles have many natural enemies that can help reduce their population and damage. If you are dealing with an infestation, it is only natural that you are wondering; what eats Japanese beetles? These include animals, insects, spiders, and pathogens. Here are some of the most common and effective predators of Japanese beetles:
Avian predators: Many birds feed on Japanese beetles, especially when they are flying or resting on plants. Some of the most voracious avian predators are purple martins, swallows, starlings, grackles, meadowlarks, cardinals, catbirds, crows, and gulls. These birds can consume hundreds of beetles per day, and can also scare away other beetles from their feeding sites.
Mammalian predators: Some mammals also prey on Japanese beetles, especially their larvae or grubs. These are the white, C-shaped worms that live in the soil and feed on plant roots. Some of the most common mammalian predators are skunks, moles, raccoons, and opossums. These animals can dig up the soil and eat the grubs, reducing their numbers and damage.
Insect and spider predators: Many insects and spiders also feed on Japanese beetles, both in their adult and larval stages. Some of the most effective insect and spider predators are predatory flies, mantids, ants, ground beetles, and spiders. These predators can attack the beetles on the plants, in the air, or in the soil, depending on their hunting strategies and preferences.
Pathogens: Some microorganisms can also infect and kill Japanese beetles, both in their adult and larval stages. These include fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes. These pathogens can cause various diseases and symptoms, such as paralysis, disorientation, reduced feeding, and death. Some of these pathogens can be applied as biological control agents, while others occur naturally in the environment.
How to Attract and Protect the Predators of Japanese Beetles?
One of the best ways to control Japanese beetles naturally is to attract and protect their predators. This can be done by following some simple steps, such as:
Provide food, water, and shelter for the predators: You can attract and support the predators of Japanese beetles by providing them with the resources they need to survive and thrive. For example, you can plant native flowers, shrubs, and trees that provide nectar, pollen, seeds, fruits, and nuts for the birds and insects. You can also install bird feeders, baths, and houses to attract and shelter the avian predators. You can also create habitats for the mammalian, insect, and spider predators by leaving some areas of your yard undisturbed, with mulch, rocks, logs, and brush piles.
Avoid using pesticides and other chemicals: You can protect the predators of Japanese beetles by avoiding the use of pesticides and other chemicals that can harm them. Pesticides can kill not only the beetles, but also their predators, as well as other beneficial insects and animals. Pesticides can also disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem, and make the pest problem worse in the long run. Therefore, you should use pesticides only as a last resort, and only in a targeted and selective manner. You should also avoid using synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and fungicides that can affect the soil health and the pathogens that infect the beetles.
Monitor and manage the pest population: You can also control Japanese beetles naturally by monitoring and managing their population. You can do this by inspecting your plants regularly for signs of damage and infestation, and removing the beetles by hand or with traps. You can also use cultural practices, such as crop rotation, intercropping, and sanitation, to reduce the food sources and breeding sites for the beetles. You can also apply some of the biological control agents, such as nematodes or fungi, to infect and kill the beetles and their grubs.
Japanese beetles are a serious pest that can cause extensive damage to your plants and crops. However, you can control them naturally by using their predators. By attracting and protecting the predators of Japanese beetles, you can reduce their population and damage, and enhance the biodiversity and health of your ecosystem. You can also monitor and manage the pest population by using some of the cultural and biological methods available. By doing so, you can enjoy your plants and crops without resorting to harmful chemicals. This is how you can control Japanese beetles naturally with their predators.