Japanese Beetle- Popillia japonica

Japanese Beetle- Popillia japonica

This is a beetle. A clumsy beetle. One of millions I’ve seen crashing into people and cars, plants and buildings in New Hampshire this past summer. Their time seems to be over for now, but they were everywhere for a while. Their iridescence and their ubiquity, along with their potential threat to my garden, made me wonder about them.

Turns out, I was right to wonder. These invasive beetles, originally (as the name suggests) from Japan, have spread across the northern US, southern Canada, west to Kentucky, and all the way south down the East Coast to Georgia and Alabama. Introduced over a hundred years ago to this continent, likely on a lily bulb shipment, they infest hundreds of types of plants, including rose bushes, grapes, Norway Maples (also invasive, interestingly enough), and some varieties of crab apples. I found them all over my garden, though they didn’t seem to be doing a lot of damage there… they are known to “skeletonize” leaves, eating tissues between veins and leaving burnt-looking lacy outlines where once was green.

Irrigated lawns and golf courses provide perfect larval development conditions for the beetles, who chew off grass roots and leave brown, dead grass patches… which presumably are then watered more, increasing suitability for the beetle grubs.

Unpleasant. But pretty?

This entry was posted in Biology.

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