The Bane of the Midwest in June

Heat? No. Humidity? No.


Doesn't this make for a lovely garden photo? My roses all look like this. And the leaves look like Swiss cheese. It's so disheartening! And the season is just starting.

So what to do about them? Well you could purchase and put up a beetle trap. It's a little plastic frame that holds a bag, and you insert a hormone packet. The beetles are attracted to the hormones, fly up and bounce off the plastic frame and fall into the bag. It's effective and good for a couple of gallons of bugs in one season. But there is a debate among many gardeners as to whether the hormones actually attract more bugs than would have invaded your garden in the first place. I usually get one and put it "away" from my garden, so it does it's job but not right in the middle of everything that I don't want them eating.

Someone the other day told me that she mixes a dish pan of soapy water, then "shakes" the beetles into it, where they get stuck and drown.

I'm guessing there are some insecticides that work at least somewhat, though I've heard they're very resistant to insecticides, and spraying is always a last resort for me.

But I have another option that I put together a couple of years ago that is also very effective. It's a manual method, but rather satisfying when you finish with a bagful of the nasty beasties. I've shared the idea with a few people and they loved it, even telling me I should patent the idea. But I've always said that if I ever came up with an alternative energy source (as if!), I would release it immediately onto the internet to benefit the world in general. This is sort of like that -- er, you know, if you squint and cross your eyes. Point is, I'd rather benefit others than horde the idea for financial gain. Besides, I made it with materials that everyone has in their recycle bin, and how would one patent that?

So anyway, follow along and I'll show you how to make a Japanese Beetle catcher. (I need a catchy name for it. Got any ideas?)

You'll need a plastic milk jug, rinsed.

Use a sharp knife to cut a slice around the bottom of the milk jug, about an inch from the bottom, going 3/4 of the way around.

You should end up with one side still intact. That side should be a side next to the handle.

I'm right-handed, so when the milk jug is upside-down (which is how it will be positioned when finished,) the hinged side is just to the right of the handle.

Next, you'll want to put a handle on the bottom. Punch a couple of holes in the bottom on opposite sides, parallel to the hinge.

Now poke your handle through the holes and secure. I used an extra-long twist tie. You could use twine, wire, a plastic strip from another recycled container, etc.

Next, you need to secure a plastic bag to the pour spout.

I used another twist tie. Rubber bands work well too. You want to use something that holds the bag securely, but is also removable/replaceable, as you'll be changing out the bag when full.

My son will demonstrate how to use the catcher (name, need a cool name....) He's also right-handed, so he holds the handle of the milk jug in his left hand. His right hand is positioned on the top (bottom) through the twist tie handle, operating the hinge of the trap.

It's important to operate the hinge straight, to get the tightest seal.

Closing the hinge crooked will allow a hole for the beasties to escape.

So, using the hinging motion, my son positions the jug over an infested rose bud....

... then smoothly closes the hinge over the branch of the rosebush, effectively enclosing the rose but not damaging the plant.

It's not a swift motion, and you don't want to "snap" the trap closed. You want to perform the movement without disturbing the plant any more than necessary, thereby alerting the bugs on the other flowers. Enclosing the bud is usually enough to disturb the insects from their perch on the flower inside the jug.

The beetles have a reflexive reaction of "dropping" from the rose, then flying away -- if they could anyway. Instead, they fall off the rose into the milk jug, then funnel down through the pour spout into the bag. And they're TRAPPED!!!

Within a few minutes, my son had captured hundreds of beetles -- hundreds of breeding beetles that won't be laying their eggs for next year. I know it's a drop in the bucket, but I'm happy to contribute what I can. Plus, I can match what the hormone trap does in a week in only about 15 minutes, and not be attracting more beetles to my garden in the process.

Note: Be careful not to snag the bag on the lower branches and rip the plastic, inadvertently releasing your catch.

When you're done trapping, simply dispose of the bag of beetles. I'm never a fan of causing any living thing to suffer, though I'm sorely tempted when it comes to a plague such as this. But a fairly quick and environmentally friendly method is to simply drown them in the plastic bag you trapped them in.

I hope you'll give this a shot, and share the idea with others. It works fabulously and any little bit helps. Plus, it's a great way to re-purpose your recyclables!

Be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page

I'll be linking to some of the fabulous link parties listed on the right sidebar ... but really, that's a LOT of parties! I probably won't get to them all, but you should stop in and visit a few yourself. While you're at it, stop by my home page and add a few links there too!