Friday, July 29, 2011

Japanese Beetles

Beetles take in a little grape
Japanese Beetles have a sweet tooth, or at least a sweet mandible.  While they seemingly can eat anything (400 species and counting), on Bull Creek they are often found most predictably on wild grape.  Unlike Dracula, they avoid the leaf veins, leaving a clean reticulated pattern like they were carefully dissecting the circulatory system.

They are thought to have arrived in the US in 1916.  They have become an urban and garden problem in recent years, matching the observation that most invasive species take around a hundred years to spread and become a major problem.

Now they are facing the government.  It turns out that they, like a turn of the century Ozarker, have developed a taste for corn.  If they were eating just the leaves, it might not be as big a problem.  It turns out that they specialize in nibbling the corn silk, the plant's source of pollination.  This in turn prevents the development of the kernel our society has become so dependent on for food, sweetening and now fuel.

Researchers suspect that it will be 5 to 7 years of progressive problems before nature begins to reach an equilibrium.  There are many factors that can begin to control a new invasive species.  If new predators which are uncommon now develop a taste for them, the predators success can lead to proliferation of their numbers.  Diseases that are selective for them could also reduce their numbers.

Nature always finds a way to restore the balance.  Unfortunately the process is slow in human terms so don't expect them to fade away any time soon.

More information is available in this News-Leader article


  1. At first I was like "oh yuck!" But after scrolling down and seeing how each post is dedicated to a different creature... cool. :)

  2. 5 to 7 years before nature achieves a state of equilibrium? That is hopeful i must say...but these beetles have been pitted against the wrong ecosystem..don't you think?

  3. interesting post

    + one follower

  4. Oh, wow. That's pretty fascinating, actually.

  5. awesome, the nature full of surprises