The Q&A Archives: Japanese Beetles in the Ground

Question: I have been advised by your staff several weeks ago to remove the years of built up leaf mulch from around my red raspberries to help eliminate Japanese beetle habitat as they absolutely decimate my berries and leaves on the canes. Can I use this good looking mulch in my other veggie gardens or would I be asking for problems by transferring their eggs and larvae to other garden locations? Should I just throw the leaf mulch away and not take chances? Thankx a bunch for your help.

Answer: Japanese beetle larvae spend the winter below the frost line in the soil, so if you remove the leaves early in the season, you won't tansfer them to other places. But simply removing the mulch won't deter the beetles. Raspberries are among their favorite foods, and adults fly in from quite a distance to feast. If you cover your canes well with a lightweight garden fabric, the beetles won't be able to reach them. For long-term control of Japanese beetles, whole communities must get involved to apply milky spore disease (affects only white grubs, such as June beetles and Japanese beetles) to lawns and meadows. If you need more information about such a project, contact your county agricultural extension office (ph# 616/456-6988). Best of luck!

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