cutter worms & japanese beetles - Knowledgebase Question

Canton, Ge
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Question by bawj111
June 30, 2010
i've got cutter worms on tomato plants & japanese beetles on strawberry. Seven spray says not to use on edible crops. what should i use? Thanks!

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010
It often takes a two-pronged approach to control Japanese Beetles. You are seeing the adults which were grubs in your lawn and garden earlier this year. So, you'll want to control both the adults you're seeing now, and any grubs that may overwinter in your soil. Japanese beetle grubs are best controlled by spraying beneficial nematodes on the lawn and garden area. These microscopic worm-like creatures attack only the grubs in the soil and not plants, animals or humans. Spray them in spring when the temperatures are above 55F. Another option is milky spore, Bacillus popilliae, a disease-causing bacterium that is effective against grubs of Japanese beetles.

For adult beetles, there are a variety of options. Start by hand picking early or late in the day when they are less active (drop them into soapy water). Here's a variety of options: Protect plants with floating row covers in late spring/early summer as adults emerge. (Be sure to check under covers anyway.) Beetles are sluggish on cool overcast mornings or evenings. Shake them off plants onto sheets of paper to squash them or into containers of soapy water. You can also handpick them. There are Japanese beetle traps that have a sex attractant to lure males and a floral lure to attract females and males. These are not a cure for a big infestation however and there is concern that they attract the neighbors? beetles to your yard. Attract birds and insect predators which love to feast on the beetles. Plant pollen and nectar plants to attract parasitic wasps and tachinid flies. (Note that if you spray chemicals you are also killing the beneficial insects that help keep others in check.) If that doesn?t control their numbers, try neem oil (Bonide Bon-Neem or Green Light Neem Concentrate) A new product called whole neem oil is different than standard neem in that it is a stronger concentration of this organic spray.

I assume you mean cutworms. Where you see damage, dig around the plant base with your finger. Cutworms are often found in the top inch or two of soil. Pick them out and dispose of them. Try a "collar" around the plant stems to act as a barrier. Tear a strip of newspaper about 2" wide and a foot long. Wrap it around the stem of the plant placing the bottom end just below the soil surface. This will prevent cutworms from cutting off your tender plants. By the time the paper degrades away, the stems will be larger and stronger, and not subject to cutworm attack. You can try cardboard or paper towel rolls. Just take an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll and cut the cardboard into 3-inch long sections. Place it on the soil around the stem of your transplant, burying the cardboard about one inch into the soil. Another trick is to push a stick into the soil next to the stem of the plant, to keep the cutworms from curling around the stem and eating through it. If all else fails, BtK (Bacillus Thurengiensis var. kurstaki) is an organic control for cutworms. Be sure to ask for the granular form. Good luck!

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