6th bloggiversary

Six years, almost 1200 posts, lots of photos, and it seems that each year about this time, I write something about the same critter — the dreaded Japanese beetle.

japanese-beetle-on-coneflower

Japanese Beetles make their appearance every year in the backyard (and in the front yard as well) in late June, and eat their way through my plants and flowers for the next 6 weeks.

Once again, they have made swiss cheese out of my raspberry plants, sometimes even mating and/or feeding on the fruit as well.

japanese beetle-damage

They’re pretty as insects go, but I hate seeing them on my fruit-producing plants.

But this year, thousands of beetles descended on my Honeycrisp apple trees, and have decimated more than 50% of the leaves.  Ugh!  It’s easy enough to pick them off the raspberries or spray the plants with soapy water, but apple tree leaves are out of reach. Instead of spraying the trees with some bee-killing insecticide, we used a bacteriocidal solution, combined with an oil spray.  End result — it didn’t work.

Thanks to the drenching the raspberries received from a few thunderstorms this summer, there were plenty of extra leaves for the beetles to consume, and I still got a nice crop of raspberries from the plants for my annual jam-making.  But the fate of the apple crop is yet to be determined.

raspberries-

Japanese beetle magnet

Another lovely plant that I won’t be adding to my garden — Hollyhocks.  They seem to be as much of a Japanese beetle magnet as my roses and raspberries.

japanese beetle on hollyhock

It starts like this..one or two beetles on lovely just opened Hollyhock flowers

japanese beetles on hollyhock

And once the “odeur de scarabee Japonais” (pardon my French — or lack thereof) has been released into the air, a mating orgy begins.

A sex pheromone is released by females and sensed by a receptor in the male’s antennae to lure them in.  But other females can also sense this chemical in the air and are drawn into its source, with the expectation that males will also be there.  And so, a mating orgy ensues.

japanese beetles on hollyhock

Skeletonized leaves and munched flowers leave little of the hollyhock beauty to admire.

A Cedar Waxwing jumped down to one plant to inspect the beetle congregation but left without taking one.

A Cedar Waxwing jumped down to one plant to inspect the beetle congregation but left without taking one.

Each year the Japanese beetle population gets a little larger and infests a greater variety of plants.  What's a gardener to do?

Each year the Japanese beetle population gets a little larger and infests a greater variety of plants. What’s a gardener to do?

A look back – a 3rd blogiversary

It seems quite a few people decide to start a blog in July, as did I three years ago.  My daughter convinced me that I needed an outlet for all the geeky science stuff I taught for 38 years.  So she made a home page, with a banner of water lilies from a shot she took, and christened the blog:  Back Yard Biology.

My first entry on July 17, 2011 was about the insect I hate to see in my garden, Japanese Beetles.

Japanese Beetle damage to raspberry leaves

I started out with a Canon point-and-shoot so this was as close as I got to small things.

sunflower-crop in northern Minnesota

A year later, July 18, 2012, we were visiting prairies in northwestern Minnesota. They grow a lot of sunflowers up there, and I couldn’t pass up this field at sunset. All facing the same direction, just like students in a big classroom.

12-spotted-skimmer-males

On July 17, 2013 I found two male 12-spotted skimmers having a face-off on a tomato stake in my front yard.  The pink background is actually the faded color of my house.

Three years of blogging, 695 posts, I can’t imagine how many words or photos posted, 222 faithful followers who must take a peek almost every day because the average is about 200 views per day, 102,800 total lifetime views of the blog, and 3,998 comments.  Thank you, blog readers, for making this such a fun and educational experience for me.

great-black-wasp

The animal that continues to garner the most views per day (about 40) is the Great Black Wasp (“Scary-looking, big black wasp alert” posted on July 25, 2012). It must have been the exciting title that generates interest!?

ruby-throated-hummingbird-approaching-cardinal-flower

There has to be a bird in a blogiversary post, and my personal favorite from the backyard is this female Ruby-throated Hummingbird approaching Cardinal Flower (from Aug. 17, 2013).

They’re back…

The dreaded Japanese Beetle invasion is about to start again.

The dreaded Japanese Beetle invasion is about to start again.  I found my first one on this unopened Coneflower, but I’m sure there will be many more to follow.

And I was so hoping that our many days of subzero freezing weather last winter had killed them.  No such luck.  They will probably take up residence in my ripening raspberry patch and decimate the roses that I have carefully protected from deer munching this spring.  Well, let the battle begin, because I have jars of soapy water waiting for them.

Other recommendations for handling the invasion of Japanese beetles or other pest insects can be found in an earlier post I wrote about this same time last year.