The Japanese beetle is spreading from the eastern U.S. threatening to be the most devastating pest of urban landscape plants in Kansas.
Both the adults and grubs cause damage: the grubs to your lawn and as adults to your landscape plants.
Japanese beetle white grub control is best timed when the white grubs are small and feeding in the turf root zone, usually late July to mid-August. Insecticides such as imidacloprid (Merit) or halofenozide (MACH2) are options to consider (best results obtained from a June or July application).
Controlling white grubs in the lawn will not protect landscape plants from adult feeding because Japanese beetles are attracted to favored host plants from a considerable distance.
Adult Japanese beetles are 7/16-inch long metallic green beetles with copper-brown wing covers. They feed on about 300 species of plants, devouring leaves, flowers and overripe or wounded fruit. Adults feed on the upper surface of foliage, chewing out tissue between the veins. This gives the leaf a lace-like or skeletonized appearance. They usually feed in groups, starting at the top of a plant and working downward. The beetles are most active on warm, sunny days and prefer plants that are in direct sunlight. A single beetle does not eat much; it is group feeding by many beetles that result in severe damage.
The adults can be controlled by spraying susceptible plants with insecticides such as Eight or Ortho Systemic Insect Killer. For more information view this USDA publication: Managing the Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner's Handbook.
PERENNIAL OF THE YEAR
This year's selection for for the perennial of the year by the Perennial Plant Association is Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'. Also known as Japanese Forest Grass this colorful selection does require a few conditions to thrive. It grows best is moist, humus-rich but well-drained soil. It does not like overly wet, soggy soils, heavy clay or overly dry soils. In the hot Kansas City summer climate it needs protection from direct afternoon sun.
So given the right location and preparation you should be rewarded by its 12-18" H x 18-24" W cascading, slow growth habit. Little maintenance is require; just cut back dead foliage in late winter. This grass has few disease & insect problems and is deer resistant.
It works well with golden edged or blue hostas, coral bells, bugbanes, astilbes or other purple or dark/broad leafed shade plants.
How to Get Rid of Moles in Your Lawn
Moles mostly feed on earthworms. While they do eat grubs, it’s not necessarily the reason that moles are in a lawn. Therefore using grub control products as a method of controlling moles will not likely be effective. Even in grub free lawns, moles continue to survive because the majority of their diet consists of the ever-present earthworm.
When the ground dries out in the summer or freezes in the winter, earthworms and soil dwelling insects remain deeper in the ground—and so do the moles. This behavior makes control difficult because one can never be certain that the moles are truly eliminated even though they are not making surface runs.
Moles are carnivorous unlike other rodents like rats and mice, which can be baited using rodent foods. Poison peanuts or other grain baits aren't likely to work since moles don’t feed on seeds, alfalfa pellets or any of the typical baits that are sold to kill rodents.
Also beware of claims about schemes to drive moles away. Many books and magazines reference bizarre strategies to control moles. These include putting mothballs, human hair, razor blades, or chewing gum in their tunnels, or using pinwheels or ultrasonic devices to scare moles away. The reality is that these aren't likely to work.
The only two methods of effectively controlling moles are:
- Use a bait that attracts them;
- Physically remove them by trapping.
Recently a bait that has been proven to be effective is packaged and sold in the form of a worm. The attractive smell and taste is incorporated into the worm with Bromethalin—the active ingredient that poisons the mole.
Two effective mole traps can be used depending upon where the moles are working. A scissor trap is better for use in subsurface, or deep, mole runs. A harpoon trap is usually easier to use when the tunnels are near the surface.
Whether using traps or worm-shaped baits, placement is critical. Choose a run that the mole uses regularly. Usually this is a run that is in a straight line as opposed to squiggly tunnels that are generally used for food foraging only. The best straight runs follow a structural guideline such as a curb or a gutter, because these are used regularly as the moles travel from their nest to the foraging area. To determine if a run is active, stomp it down flat then check the following day to see if it is pushed back up. If the tunnel has been repaired, it is usually an active tunnel and should be considered for trapping or baiting.