Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles chow down on Knockout roses in Papillion on Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

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.

Mike O'Connor started at The World-Herald in 1994 and has covered education, local government, religion, health, transportation, features and more. Follow him on Twitter @MikeOConnorOWH. Phone: 402-444-1122.

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(5) comments


I was surprised to find that the most significant predator of Japanese beetles is the Starling which has been almost extinguished from Omaha and many large cities, apparently because of being "messy..." What a misguided approach - the Japanese Beetle is way more destructive, weakening trees and other plants...!


Now this is an illegal alien worthy of the title.

Terry Wolfe

I wish they hadn't shown the couple in the story using the "trap". It certainly attracts the bugs from long distances but not all of them end up in the trap. Many just hang out and feed on the neighbors plants. Don't use them.


If you did not treat after last years invasion, shame on you, for those of us who did, now we have to kill the bugs that you did not bother to take care of. Do, your research and treat next spring.

Danielle Jensen

Pres. Trump colluded with the Russians to interfere in our 2018 midterm elections by releasing millions of Japanese beetles into the U.S.!!!

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

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