Japanese Beetles? . . . Try this.
by Jeff McCormack
This novel idea for Japanese beetle control comes from William and Eileen Stephens. (Eileen is one of our former seed growers.) William's idea was to use Japanese beetles to disperse the spores of milky spore disease, thus enlisting the beetles to become agents of their own (organic) doom. This is what they did:
They trapped Japanese beetles in a live trap (the type with yellow plastic vanes, and green holding container). Beetles are attracted to the trap, fly into the vanes, lose their footing, and slide down into holding container where they remain trapped. After the trap was full, Eileen coated the beetles with milky spore disease. This was done by mixing the milky spore powder with sufficient water to make a slurry. A small amount of honey was added to function as a spreader-sticker so that the spores would adhere to the beetles. The beetles were coated with the slurry and then released into the neighborhood. Because Japanese beetles may travel some distance from site of emergence, the Stephens drove around the neighborhood 1/4 mile in each direction releasing "globs" of coated Japanese beetles around preferred habitat, such as lawns and fields. The result? Japanese beetle population declined significantly for a few years afterwards.
Because Japanese beetle populations grow and shrink in cycles, it is difficult to know how much of the success of their experiment can be attributed to their control efforts, but this type of approach, using insects as vectors of their own disease, has been successfully used with other insect control programs. If you have a large expanse of lawn and a low budget for milky spore, this method is worth exploring.