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The merits of using traps for Japanese Beetles

Now that Japanese beetle season is upon us, I occasionally read articles discouraging people from using traps to control them. "Traps attract more beetles to the area, making the problem worse," quoth the naysayers.

That's why I'm reposting an entry I wrote a few years ago, after talking with one of the foremost experts on Japanese Beetles in the U.S. Here's the post from June 2005. (Note: some of the links may be outdated.)

Japanese_beetle_on_flower While disdain for Japanese beetles is universal, opinions differ on the best way to control them. Options range from pesticides to picking them off plants by hand.

Pheromone traps, however, are the most effective non-pesticide method of combatting Japanese beetles, according to an expert on the subject.

Until his retirement in late 2004, Dr. Michael Klein was a research entomologist at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) lab for horticultural insect research in Wooster, Ohio since 1969. Japanese beetles are his specialty.

The ARS team is responsible for monitoring infestations and preventing the migration of the Japanese beetle westward, because of the bug's serious threat to agriculture. To keep the beetles from hitching a ride on an airplane heading from Cleveland to California, ARS uses pheromone traps to catch them at various airports around the country.

In addition, Dr. Klein uses traps to protect the prized wild rose bushes and other plants in his own back yard. He contends that "Lure traps provide a visible means of combating a Japanese beetle problem, without having a negative effect on the environment."

When I talked with Dr. Klein last year before his retirement, he addressed two common misconceptions (perpetuated by articles like this) about Japanese beetle traps:

Misconception #1: Traps lure Japanese beetles from miles around.

The facts: Most attractants lure them from no more than 100 to 200 yards, he says. The beetles, however, are strong fliers and can travel several miles, touching down at random intervals to see what's available for a meal. So the traps only lure beetles that are already in flight near the yard. (However, Dr. Klein suggests problems could occur if using traps near the edge of a golf course or other large turf area.)

Misconception #2: Traps make the problem worse by luring more beetles than they catch.

Dr. Klein says that incorrect trap placement can lead to this conclusion. If a trap is placed next to a rose bush, a large number of beetles can be lured to that area, and some may stop at the roses rather than the trap.

Dr. Klein offers these tips for using Japanese beetle traps effectively:

  • Enlist your neighbors to battle the beetles with you. Traps can be effective in your yard alone, but if you can get those bordering your yard to set traps along with you, the overall beetle numbers will be greatly reduced.
  • Trap placement is critical. Many people may misguidedly place the traps next to ornamental plants, because that's where the beetles are present and causing the damage. Traps should be used about 30 feet from desired foliage, to lure the beetles away. It is preferable to place them next to a non-flowering tree or shrub, such as a pine tree or boxwood, which is not attractive to the beetles.

Jbt_outdoor_smaller Dr. Klein used the RESCUE! Japanese Beetle Trap following our redesign of the product in 2003 and was pleased with the favorable results he received from ARS testing of the RESCUE! product.

The RESCUE! Japanese Beetle Trap is one of several traps on the market. All share the same basic modus operandi: a lure entices beetles to fly toward the trap's bright yellow panels, and upon contact, the insects fall into the attached bag or container.

One of the most notable differences between the RESCUE! Trap and the competition is the addition of an exclusive pheromone for the Oriental beetle, a turfgrass pest which is less visible because of its nighttime flight habits -- but just as destructive as its relative the Japanese beetle.

Also, the attractant cartridge in the RESCUE! Japanese Beetle Trap is engineered to have a controlled and consistent release rate of the beetle pheromones. Other traps use a wax-based attractant, which has a strong initial scent release but tapers off after a few days of being exposed to air.

The double-layer nylon catch bag of the RESCUE! Trap is welded to the yellow panels, making it sturdy and resistant to the wind. The panels themselves are taller than those of other traps, giving the beetles more surface area to hit.

Additionally, the RESCUE! attractant is positioned at the top and in the center of the yellow panels. Because the scent chemicals are heavier than air, the pheromone "hovers" around the panels. In traps where the attractant is positioned lower, the scent can hover around the outside of the bag. This increases the chance that beetles could miss the trap because they are not lured inside the bag, but rather to the outside of it.

So there you have it: the case for Japanese Beetle Traps... specifically the RESCUE! Japanese Beetle Trap!

July 8, 2008 in Japanese Beetles | Permalink


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This is bogus. I have had neighbors using the Phermone traps.. and was INFESTED by these horrible insects. For the last 2 summers, twice a year, I apply GRUB-X to my lawn and flower beds in an effort to control them. I have had some success in doing this. At least I can go outside now, without them everywhere. If I see a phermone trap near my yard, I WILL remove it. If you don't like your neighbor, you can use one of these and the neighbor will be inundated with them the following summer.

Posted by: terri | Jul 12, 2008 4:10:24 PM

I would like to know is this product supposed to smell like dead fish? or what causes the odor?

Posted by: Stronia | Jul 14, 2008 1:28:48 PM

Terri, I'm sorry that you didn't find the pheromone traps to be a good solution for you. I'm glad you have something else that seems to be working.

Posted by: Stephanie | Jul 15, 2008 10:38:12 AM

Stronia, if you're referring to the Beetle trap, then yes, the trapped beetles do produce an odor after a while.

Posted by: Stephanie | Jul 15, 2008 10:40:01 AM

To the person who removes property from other people's property, such as their Japanese beetle traps, that is theft and trespass and PS Grub-Ex is highly toxic and most Japanese Beetle Grubs are immune to it. Grubex is highly toxic to aquatic life, very toxic to children, pets, birds and bees and easily moves from one place to another (high motility) and stays in the soil for extended period of time meaning each time you add Grubex your soil becomes more and more toxic. I was inundated with Japanese beetles about 4 year ago. I treated my lawn with beneficial nemotodes (can't use those if you use pesticides on your lawn) and I purchased baby preying mantis. The next year I had a few less, the following almost none and this year I have not seen one yet. http://www.cqs.com/elawn.htm

Posted by: Sharon Zukowski | Jul 5, 2010 5:38:43 PM

I will not use any pesticide or chemical on my lawn.
I have been using the attractant beetle traps for years. Since I have been using them the animals have stopped digging up my yard at night. The beetle population is down alot. Some years there is a spike in numbers. But then it is down the next year.

Posted by: Tom | Jul 16, 2011 5:19:05 PM

If you haven't spotted them already. They'll do a little munching as they get into their cycle of feeding, mating and laying eggs.

Posted by: seo reseller program | Aug 24, 2011 4:41:30 PM

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