PUTNAM COUNTY — Summer is here! Many gardeners, farmers and homeowners across the area probably noted the blast of beetle activity this past week that officially welcomed the first days of summer. Here are a couple notable beetles you might see while out and about this week:




Japanese beetle

Japanese beetles have begun emerging from beneath the soil. I spotted the first one in Ottawa last week on some linden trees. Soon you will find them munching on a range of different plants including linden and crabapple trees, fruit trees such as apple, peach, cherry and plum, hollyhocks, roses, corn, soybeans, and many other ornamental and fruiting plants. Adult beetles can live up to 60 days and will be with us for the next six to eight weeks.
Where there is one, there are many. The adult beetle emits a scent that attracts other Japanese beetles, hence why you will find large clusters of beetles together. Adult beetles can severely damage plants by feeding on the leaf tissue between the veins, leaving behind what looks like a skeletonized leaf. Large numbers of beetles can leave plants looking like a shell of their former self.
Adult beetles also mate this time of year. Once mated, female beetles lay eggs in turf and grassy areas which eventually develop into grubs - that become a pest of our lawns and gardens in the spring and fall. Once mature, the grubs develop into beetles and the cycle begins again. Look for an article in the next few weeks that covers grub control in lawns.
Small numbers of beetles can be controlled by collecting them in a bucket of soapy water. Larger numbers and those located in not-so-easy to reach areas can be knocked down with foliar sprays of Insecticides such as carbaryl, pyrethrins and pyrethroids. Before using any pesticide, read and follow the label directions.


Soldier beetles

One very active beetle this time of year is considered a “good bug” - the soldier beetle, also known as the margined leatherwing. These half-inch long beetles can be found on nearly every flowering plant right now, especially linden trees. Instead of feeding on the foliage as Japanese beetles do, soldier beetles feed on pollen and nectar and also eat soft-bodied garden pests like aphids. Soldier beetles lay their eggs in the soil and hatch into larvae that look like black caterpillars with an orange head and horns! These little critters eat the eggs of many garden bugs including grasshoppers, moths, and other beetles.
We will see a similar but different soldier beetle later in the summer and fall when the goldenrod blooms – the goldenrod leatherwing. Soldier beetles are also closely related to another common beetle found this time of year – the lightening bug, or firefly.

Is something bugging you in the garden or on the farm? Bring a sample into the extension office, and we will identify it for you! For additional information, please contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, at scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu, or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.