Japanese beetle population booming in Kansas City area

Jim Cunningham
July 13, 2017 - 7:05 am

Japanese beetles are swarming lawns and gardens across the Kansas City metro.

The green and copper insects are in full, landscape-destroying mode, tearing through plants and trees. A mild winter may be partly to blame. 

People who have not treated their lawns or trees before now are left with few options to stop them, said Raymond Cloyd, entomology professor at Kansas State University.

Beetle damage does not mean the end to a landscape, however. 

"If you have a large numbers event and they start exfoliating plants, they can cause some potential set-back," Cloyd said. "On a larger tree it would take multiple levels to actually do that."

One solution to the Japanese beetle problem is to apply a broad spectrum insecticide on the lawn in the spring, which has its own side effect; the imbalance caused by killing beneficial insects can spur an outbreak of spider mites, which are also harmful to many plants.

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