This article originally appeared June 30.
They love linden trees, relish rose bushes and find tomatoes tasty.
Japanese beetles were worse than ever in Nebraska last summer, and now they’re back.
Local experts say they emerged about 10 days ago in the region and are popping up on trees, bushes and other plants. They’re notorious for chomping through leaves, leaving behind the skeletal veins in the wreckage.
Entomologists say it’s too early to know whether the beetle population will be as big as last summer, but gardeners are already on edge.
A big problem with the invasive insect is that they are known to target as many as 300 species of plants.
Jonathan Larson, an entomologist with the Nebraska Extension in Douglas County, called the beetles “the bug that ate Omaha.”
Last summer’s invasion increased awareness about the bug, which could help keep the numbers down, said Jody Green, an entomologist with the Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.
Larson agreed. He said more homeowners put down treatments this spring, such as soil insecticides, designed to kill the beetles in their larval form before they emerged from the ground. The window for such treatments has passed, he said, but there are still steps you can take such as using organic products containing neem oil on trees.
The quarter-inch bugs can be identified by the five white tufts of hair on each side of their abdomen.
Japanese beetles are considered the most widespread turf-grass pests in the U.S., costing more than $460 million a year to control, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.