Posted on 31 October 2011 by

The Organic Tale of Basil and the Japanese Beetle

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

The other day, I was out in my garden space picking basil and discovered a pest that I love and hate.

This pest is smaller than me and has a beautiful iridescent color of green.

Many hate to see this little creature but for me it brings back memories.

This gardening memory of my dad and I picking beetles off the roses seems so special now but then I viewed this chore as a punishment.

Later on in our Japanese beetle endeavor, science caught up with the gardener and the Japanese beetle trap was developed. This trap uses the smell of sex, in the beetle world, to attract the beetles. They fall into the trap and cannot fly out. While in the trap, they expire.

Another approach that my dad and I never used is to suck them up in a vacuum cleaner. This technique seems a little odd to me. I can see swarms of people vacuuming their plants but if you choose to use this technique do not forget to empty the vacuum. You do not want to take the chance of bringing them indoors.

A further approach to try is companion plantings. I am a big fan of this technique but for it to work you have to plan ahead. Japanese beetles do not like the smell of garlic or chives. To use this technique, plant garlic and/or chives around the plants.

The Japanese beetle does have a natural enemy and that is the bacterium milky spore. This bacterium is sprinkled on the soil. The beetles eat this bacterium and then die. Once dead, the beetles bodies breakdown and re-infest the soil. This creates a continuous form of control.

Ingredients in the kitchen can also be used to control or deter Japanese beetles. A cayenne pepper is one of those ingredients. To make a cayenne pepper spray, mix a little cayenne pepper with a little liquid soap and water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and apply.

This mixture will deter Japanese beetles as soon as they take a bite.

The second ingredient that can be turned into a spray is apple cider vinegar. To create this spray, mix one part each of vinegar and water. Place in spray bottle and apply to foliage as needed.

This concoction will kill the Japanese beetles. The acid of this solution is strong enough to destroy them on contact.

So until we blog again, Japanese beetles seems to appear out of the blue and everywhere. There is no need to get out the commercial spray when you should go the organic way. Hand picking is one way to go but the numbers of beetles can squish this approach. Companion plantings add beauty and control while homemade sprays are the way to go.

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