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View from the Cab: They're back

A tree damaged by Japanese beetles / CIFN photo.

While working on my farmer’s tan when mowing the other afternoon, I felt something crawling around inside my shirt.

After a few shakes, a Japanese beetle flew out. These bugs seem to be everywhere this year after appearing out of nowhere. I recall the beetles coming out earlier in previous years but maybe they are delayed just like the corn and soybeans are following a wet spring.

These pests already got one of our trees and a rose bush leading to dead leaves piling up in the driveway. I’m thankful I was wearing my sunglasses when mowing the other day since one smacked right into one of the lenses. That could have been my eyeball had there been no protection.

Farmers and those working in the retail ag industry are closely monitoring this Japanese beetle outbreak.

“We are starting to have Japanese beetles moving into the area feeding on the ends (of soybeans) so that is definitely something guys want to keep an eye on,” Bryan Cole of Brandt Consolidated told me last week.

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the Japanese beetle is a species of scarab beetle with the adult measuring 15 millimeters in length and 10 millimeters in width. In Japan, the bug is not very destructive as it is controlled by predators but it is a different story in North America. Around 300 species of plants are impacted by the beetles including grapes, hops, and certain types of trees such as birch and linden.

The insect reportedly appeared in the United States back in 1916 at a nursery in the Riverton, New Jersey area. Wikipedia reports the larvae likely entered our country in a shipment of iris bulbs before 1912. Except for a few western U.S. states, Japanese beetles have been detected throughout the country.

As quick as they come, it often seems the numbers of Japanese beetles drop off as the summer progresses. Sure, you may see a few flying around in August but not nearly as many as early in the summer. The makers of insect repellent and bug traps always look forward to this time of the year, I’m sure.

(The View from the Cab blog is powered by Petersen Motors of Fairbury)

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