The Q&A Archives: Japanese Beetle Damage Fatal To Fruit Trees?

Question: I'm fighting what seems a losing battle against Japanese Beetles in my newly established dwarf cherry trees. Despite regular applications of Pure Neem Oil, the miserable beasts arrive in swarms, weighing down the branches, eating the leaves. I would estimate that my poor trees have lost 30% of their leafy surface area. What are their chances for survival? I do pick the beetles off into a bucket of soapy water, and I've taken (chemical) grub control measures, but I still I doubt that I'll win this war: I'm outnumbered. Might my trees survive despite my failure to defeat their enemies? Is there anything more I can do to defend them, short of blasting the region with some loathsome chemical that will also kill the honeybees?

Answer: Those beetles really are incredible. Your trees shoud be able to withstand the beetles as long as they are otherwise healthy. First off, make sure you are not inadvertently attracting them to your area with a pheromone trap. Handpicking is most effective in the early morning or evening when the beetles are moving slowly. Neem oil based sprays may serve as a repellent, so it may be doing more good than you realize. Carbaryl can be used when the infestation warrants it, being careful to read and follow the label instructions, when the bees are not present.

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