The Q&A Archives: What to do for Japanese bettles & fire ants?

Question: Last year I had problems with Japanese bettles and fire ants. The bettles total destroyed all my roses and fire ant hills were popping up everywhere. My house is a new development. The builder used Bermuda sod on red clay in this development. The first year I didn't have this problem. When and what should I put down so this doesn't happen this year.

Answer: There are several Japanese Beetle Control methods available on the market. Whether you intend to blast the beetles with chemicals or go the organic route, you can get control of the dreaded Japanese Beetle. June through August is probably the best application time for most Japanese Beetle grub control chemicals as this is when the younger grubs are hatching and feeding. Organic treatment for Japanese Beetle control can take some time to work or can be a lot of work, depending on the density of your Japanese Beetle population. The simplest organic method is just picking the Japanese Beetles off of your plants as you walk through your garden and pitching them in a bucket of soapy water. Trapping Japanese Beetles is another option, but the traps seem to draw more and more from neighboring yards. You may also choose to plant plants that are not attractive to the Japanese Beetle. Another form of control for the Japanese Beetle Grub is Milky Spore. It can take several years for this disease to build up and effectively control the feeding beetle grubs, but it does seem to work for a lot of people. Parasitic Nematodes are a new control option available to the home gardener. Some of these products go by the names: Biosafe, Biovector, Exhibit and Scanmask. You'll want to water before and after application of the nematodes. An important fact to remember is that if you live in an area with heavy infestation of Japanese Beetles, you'll want to try to work with your neighbors in developing a Japanese Beetle control program. This should give you better control of the Japanese Beetle population in your own yard.

Fire ants are also difficult to control. Pyrethrin is an effective mound drench at 4 tablespoons per gallon of hot water. It provides quick kill with short-term residues. Or, diatomaceous earth (DE) applied to mounds as a dust or water suspension will move ant colonies, but not eliminate them. There are also chemical treatments available so check your local garden center for those available in your gardening region.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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