The Popillia Japonica (aka Japanese Beetle) has shown up in droves here at Hearty Roots Farm, and elsewhere throughout the Hudson Valley. This lover of tender eggplant leaves is also quite fond of basil, but the most shocking damage is the complete destruction of our entire soy bean crop. Sadly, we will not be able to offer you edamame this year.
Click the link below to see an image of soybean destruction.
Scouting the rows we have found as many as 12 climbing on top of each other at the same time. Many plants supported upwards of 50 beetles before succumbing to their voracious appetites. We tried (in vain) to trap these flying foes using a unique hour glass shaped bag that allows the bugs to fly in but prevents them from flying out. The beetles are attracted to the bags by an adhesive strip doused in pheromones, which we attach to the bag as bait.
The bag is then suspended from a fence post near the host plants. In the case of our soy bean crop we could have swapped out filled bags every day. Eventually, it was clear we could not win, and that to continue to try and save the soy beans was futile.
By keeping the plants — rather than tilling them into the soil we hope that we are turning our failed crop into a trap crop, keeping the beetles away from other plants. So far, we have seen only limited damage to other plants on the farm.
Given the natural cycles of most insects you might wonder why we don’t plant soybeans again. However, our window for replanting has come to a close. If we were to replant, the beans would not mature in time for harvest this season.
Perhaps next season the beetles will not be as prolific — we’ll see!