Kansas State University


Extension Entomology

Tag: spray applications

Japanese Beetles are Back!

— by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Japanese beetle adults are out in full-force in certain regions of Kansas feeding on one of their favorite host plants…roses. The means of dealing with the adult stage of this insect pest are limited, however, and have been for many years, with the use of insecticides being the primary plant protection strategy. Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica is native to Japan and was first reported in the United States in 1916 in the state of New Jersey. Since then, Japanese beetles have spread throughout the country from Maine to Georgia with permanent establishments in nearly every state east of the Mississippi River and several western states west of the Mississippi River. Japanese beetles are established in eastern and central portions of Kansas and are slowly moving further west. The adult is one of the most destructive insect pests of horticultural plants in both landscapes and gardens. The larvae or grub is a major turfgrass pest in home lawns, commercial settings, and golf courses.

Japanese beetle adults are 9/16 inches long and metallic green with coppery-brown wing covers (Figure 1).

Fig 1: Close-up of Japanese beetle adult.
Fig 1: Close-up of Japanese beetle adult.

There are approximately 14 tufts of white hair present along the median of the abdomen (Figure 2).

Fig 2: Japanese beetle adult. Note tufts of white hairs on median of abdomen.
Fig 2: Japanese beetle adult. Note tufts of white hairs on median of abdomen.

Adult Japanese beetles emerge from the soil and live from 30 to 45 days feeding on plants over a four-to-six-week period. They feed on many ornamental plants including trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous annual and perennials, and of course—roses. Plant placement in the landscape and volatiles emitted by plants are factors that influence adult acceptance. Furthermore, Japanese beetle adults produce aggregation pheromones that attract individuals (both males and females) to the same feeding location. Adults may fly up to five miles to locate a feeding site; however, they tend to fly only short distances to feed and lay eggs.

Japanese beetle adults feed through the upper leaf surface (epidermis) and leaf center (mesophyll), leaving the lower epidermis intact. They usually avoid feeding on tissue between leaf veins, resulting in leaves appearing lace-like or skeletonized (Figure 3).

Fig 3: Japanese beetle adult feeding damage.
Fig 3: Japanese beetle adult feeding damage.

Adults are most active during warm days, feeding on plants that are exposed to sunlight throughout the day, which is likely why roses are a susceptible host plant because they require at least six hours of direct sunlight. Japanese beetle adults also start feeding at the top of plants, migrating downward after depleting food sources. Japanese beetle adults aggregate in masses on rose flowers (Figure 4).

Fig 4: Japanese beetle adults aggregating on rose flower.
Fig 4: Japanese beetle adults aggregating on rose flower.

Although adult beetles feed primarily on flowers, they will also feed on leaves (Figure 5).

Fig 5: Japanese beetle adults feeding on leaves.
Fig 5: Japanese beetle adults feeding on leaves.

Japanese beetle adults chew holes in flower buds, which prevent flowers from opening or cause petals to fall prematurely. Moreover, adults will consume entire rose petals, and feed on the pollen of fully-opened flowers.

Japanese beetle adult management involves implementing a variety of plant protection strategies, including: cultural, physical, and insecticidal. Cultural involves maintaining healthy roses through proper irrigation, fertility, mulching, and pruning, which are important in minimizing any type of stress; thus possibly decreasing susceptibility. Also, removing weeds such as smartweed (Polygonum spp.) that are attractive to Japanese beetle adults will at least alleviate infestations. Physical is associated with hand-picking or collecting Japanese beetle adults from roses before populations are extensive. The appropriate time to hand-pick or collect adult beetles is in the morning when ambient air temperatures are typically “cooler.” Adults can be easily collected by placing a wide-mouthed jar or bucket containing rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) or soapy water underneath each adult, and then touching them. Adults that are disturbed fold their legs perpendicular to the body, and fall into the liquid and are subsequently killed. This procedure, when conducted daily or every-other-day, particularly after adults emerge, may substantially reduce plant damage. The use of Japanese beetle traps is not recommended since the floral lure and synthetically-derived sex pheromone may attract more adult beetles into an area than would “normally” occur. Adult beetles may also feed on roses before reaching the traps, which increases potential damage.

Spray applications of contact insecticides will kill Japanese beetle adults. Repeat applications will be required; especially when populations are excessive. Furthermore, thorough coverage of all plant parts will increase effectiveness of the application. The insecticide carbaryl (Sevin) and several pyrethroid-based insecticides including those containing bifenthrin or cyfluthrin as the active ingredient may be used to suppress Japanese beetle adult populations. However, since most of these insecticides are also directly harmful to many natural enemies (parasitoids and predators) their continual use may lead to secondary pest outbreaks of other pests including the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). Moreover, these insecticides are directly harmful to pollinators (honey bees and bumble bees). Therefore, applications should be conducted in the early morning or late evening when pollinators are less active. In general, systemic insecticides, are not effective because Japanese beetle adults have to feed on leaves and consume lethal concentrations of the active ingredient. If extensive populations are present, then damage to plants may still occur.

The battle or war against Japanese beetle adults requires patience, persistence, and diligence in order to prevent adults from causing substantial damage to roses and other susceptible plants.


For more information on Japanese beetle and other pests of roses consult the following publication:

Compendium of Rose Diseases and Pests (second edition). 2007. APS Press. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN.


–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Lace bugs are insects that are present throughout Kansas feeding on a variety of plant types; however, lace bugs are not really a major insect pest of garden and landscape plants because they typically do not inflict significant direct harm to plants. Nonetheless, abundant populations may reduce the aesthetic appearance of certain plant types. Lace bugs feed on a wide-range of trees and shrubs, including: azalea, basswood, cotoneaster, hawthorn, linden, oak, rhododendron, and sycamore. Herbaceous plants susceptible to lace bugs include: aster, chrysanthemum, and scabiosa. The major plant-feeding lace bug species include Stephanitis spp., and Corythucha spp. Stephanitis spp. are primarily pests of broad-leaved evergreens, whereas Corythucha spp., including the sycamore lace bug (Corythucha ciliata) are pests of deciduous trees and shrubs.


Fig 1:  Lace bug damage on azalea plant. Note the stippled and/or bleached appearance of the leaves.


Lace bugs feed primarily on leaf undersides; using their piercing-sucking mouthparts to withdraw plant sap from individual leaf cells. Their feeding cause’s leaves to appear stippled and/or bleached (Figure 1). Lace bugs feed similar to the twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, with both withdrawing chlorophyll (green pigment) from plant cells. The damage associated with lace bugs is similar to that caused by spider mites and leafhoppers; however, lace bugs leave black, tar-spot-like droplets of


Fig 2: Black, tar-spot-like droplets of lace bug excrement.

excrement (“Lace Bug Poop”) on leaf undersides (Figure 2). The presence of black excrement distinguishes lace bugs from spider mites and/or leafhoppers. Excessive lace bug populations and extensive feeding may reduce plant vigor; however, any direct plant effects are dependent on plant age and size (especially young or newly-transplanted trees and shrubs).

Adult lace bugs are very distinguishable and quite attractive. The adults possess lacy, clear, shiny wings that are held flat over the body (Figure 3).


Fig 3:  Close-up of lace bug adult.


They are 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 to 8 mm) in length, and move sideways when disturbed. Female lace bugs lay between 20 to 50 eggs during their lifespan underneath leaves. The eggs are usually positioned alongside leaf veins and are black and shaped like a wine flask. Shiny, black nymphs with spines around the periphery of the body emerge from the eggs (Figure 4).


Fig 4: Lace bug nymphs on leaf underside.

Nymphs undergo five instar stages before reaching adulthood. Shed skins on leaf undersides are evidence of nymphs that have transformed into adults. The life cycle (egg to adult) generally takes about 30 days to complete. There may be up to three generations per year although development is contingent on temperature. Stephanitis spp. overwinters as eggs that are cemented onto leaves and Corythucha spp. overwinters as adults in bark crevices and branch crotches. Adult activity commences in the spring when leaves unfold.

Lace bugs are more abundant on plants such as rhododendron and azalea that are exposed to full sun rather than on plants in shady locations. The management of lace bugs is generally not warranted because lace bugs are susceptible to many natural enemies including predators; such as, green lacewings, plant bugs, assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, and spiders. A forceful water spray may be effective in quickly dislodging lace bugs from plants. However, if necessary, a number of contact insecticides registered for use against lace bugs can be applied. Be sure to read the label to make sure lace bugs are listed. Be sure to thoroughly cover leaf undersides to maximize the effectiveness of spray applications because the leaf undersides are where all the life stages (eggs, nymphs, and adults) of lace bugs are located.

If you have any questions regarding the management of lace bugs contact your county horticultural agent, or university-based or state extension entomologist.





Bagworms —- Current Status, and What to Do

–by Dr. Bob Bauernfeind

For the past several weeks, in Ward Upham’s compilation of Hot Topics, bagworms have been mentioned.  Last week, they were designated as Pest of the Week.   This is not a real surprise given the time of the year.  Why?  As pictured below, the colored time frames are indicative of bagworm feeding capabilities.  Smaller (generally overlooked) larvae in the green and yellow zones represent periods when larvae are small “nibblers” — negligible visible feeding damage.

The orangish/amberish represents “caution” — larger larvae becoming more destructive but not necessarily causing noticeable damage.  But now (August) is the red danger zone where (as is typical for all lepidopteran larvae) rapidly growing larvae in their last feeding stages consume the greatest amount of foliage (create the most noticeable damage) that has people reacting to the presence of bagworms.


The question now is, “Is it too late to spray for bagworms?”  Currently, it is not too late to spray!  Notwithstanding their size, as long as bagworms are actively foraging, they can be effectively controlled.  Those directly hit by an insecticide spray will be killed by contact action.  Those withdrawn into their bag at the time of the spray application will likely succumb after coming-in-contact with treated foliage, but most certainly after consuming treated foliage.

How does one determine if bagworms are actively feeding?  OBSERVATION!  “Active bags” can be identified by newly-clipped greenery at the bag opening.  Also, with a bit of patience, simply watch for a bagworm to reopen its bag, poke out its head, and resume feeding.


When is it too late to spray for bagworms?  That also is easily determined.  When a bagworm completes its feeding cycle, it anchors its bag to the host plant with a distinct, highly visible white silken “tie”, after which it permanently closes the “front door”.  Spraying at this point-in-time is futile because the thick leathery bag protects the bagworm within.


According to NPIRS (National Pesticide Information Retrieval System), currently in Kansas, there are 500 products registered for use against bagworms.  Some active ingredients currently contained in insecticides available for purchase and use by homeowners include acephate, Bacillus thuringiensis, bifenthrin, carbaryl, cyfluthrin, cyhalothrin (gamma and lambda), deltamethrin, malathion, permethrin and spinosad.  In various trials, I have used the bolded AIs and found them all to be effective against bagworms, even those considered large and close to the end of their feeding cycle.  Some homeowners may still be in possession of discontinued products with the active ingredients chlorpyrifos, dimethoate and/or diazinon.  All were effective against bagworms in trials.  Although it does not appear to have been written into any legalized directive (per personal communication with the KDA), discontinued products may still be used if done in accordance with the instructions appearing on the product label.  Residents may not share or give partial containers to neighbors as this would be considered distribution.

Excluding products containing Bacillus thuringiensis (minimal effectiveness against larger instar larvae), regardless of which product/AI is applied, the critical factor for successful bagworm population reduction is THOROUGH COVERAGE TOP-TO-BOTTOM!  Hastily applied light/misty sprays to tree and shrub peripheries will lead to disappointing results.