Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Japanese Beetles.. how far they have spread

 I thought I would pop this up quick to show the range of these beetles. A 100 years ago they were spotted in New Jersey. Kentucky has also popped up several times as one of the areas from which this pest was introduced.

  That was 2005. This next one is the range over the last decade.

 This map is from NAPIS (National Agricultural Pest Information System.)

 The Japanese beetle tirade here hasn't quite slowed down yet. The chickens and guineas were doing an incredible job keeping the beetle numbers down. I did not realize how big of an impact they were making until we moved them to the coop. 

 3 days away from the garden and the beetle numbers just exploded. Gently shaking a leaf of a wild grape vine and dozens would tumble into my awaiting hand. The pole beans which finally made yet another surge of growth.. was now a lacy wreck.

 It did make me pause a moment and consider how much food my chickens and guineas were foraging. 34 birds are consuming about 50 pounds of feed a week (50% scratch and 50% layer feed).. although much of the layer feed gets wasted and the scratch is like candy to them. It works out to be about 3.36 oz of food per bird per day including the wasted feed or the veggies I give them.

 They really do not like the bagged feed. I made the mistake of mixing some scratch in with it to encourage them to eat out of the feeder.. the results were a massive mess in the coop. They about emptied the 30 pound feeder just picking out the seeds. If I only offer pellets, then a 50 pound bag would probably last almost 2 weeks. 5 pounds of cut up dinged garden veggies lasts 2 minutes. The only time their crop is empty is in the early morning. No chubby chickens either as they run around all day long.

 Milky Spore is on my want list.  Kinda further down on my want list.. as my husband has noticed the bug devouring power of our feathered fiends. 

 It is hard to see Japanese beetles as a blessing, but as chicken feed.. I suppose they are. I couldn't imagine how bad the beetles would have ravaged the garden had we not had the birds. 3 days without them and many things in the garden almost were eradicated.

 Maybe... I just need more chickens. 


  1. So is it true that you can actually let guinea hens into the garden and they will mostly focus on the bugs before bothering with plants? We use to have wild quail that would make the rounds in our garden area but as the feral cat population has skyrocketed the quail are prettyy much gone and we have more slugs than ever.

  2. Not quite... they do love bugs and will wander everywhere grazing (clover, grass)and chasing bugs, they will raid the garden. So not a garden buddy. (Mine will do the contented kazoo sounds of "doot-dah-doo" the moment they are in the beans.. or munching squash/ bean/ cucumber flowers.)

    Ducks or geese probably would be a better bet. Ducks love slugs.. and both graze on grasses. Ducks will get along with chickens. Geese get territorial. Both will go after strawberries though. Ducks and geese have both been used a long time as built in garden weeders.