In the garden: The dreaded Japanese beetle is back in Nebraska and gnawing on plants | Home & Garden

Avid gardeners weren’t the only visitors when I hosted a stop on the Omaha Rose Society tour last weekend.

A few people shared that they had seen Japanese bugs on some of my roses, disappointing news for everyone.

“We’re not sure what the population will be like this year,” said Scott Evans of Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. “These beetles feed on over 300 ornamental and crop plants.”

Evans said there are some common misconceptions when it comes to the destructive insects:

  • Bug traps work, but they work too well. Each trap has the potential to bring a few extra 100,000 bugs into the landscape.
  • Maggot management will not prevent or deter adult beetles from flying into the landscape. Grub Management will only protect the turf.
  • Milky Spores may not be as effective as it used to be. It only kills the maggots of the Japanese beetle and will not cope with the other four white larvae that we can see in the lawn.

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The best defense for reducing damage to the landscape is spot treatment of prized or high-value plants, Evans said. Consider using less toxic options like neem-based products to reduce collateral damage to beneficial insects.

Hand picking has proven itself. Do this around 7pm to reduce the distress pheromones given off by the plant and the aggregation pheromones produced by the bugs.

John Porter, an Evans collaborator, said the insects love lots of fruit, especially peaches and grapes.

To protect them you can spray on a product called Surround. It’s a finely powdered spray that makes these plants less palatable but washes off right away.

“Most people don’t use it in the landscape because it makes the plants ugly,” Porter said.

The bugs keep moving west, but they’ll never go away entirely. Porter said they’re now a common pest in West Virginia, where he’s from.

“I came here in one of the first years they were here,” he said. “I couldn’t understand why everyone lost their love for Japanese bugs.”

Tour forced a garden cleanup

I would like to thank the Omaha Rose Society for asking me to be part of their garden tour.

Not because I think I had an amazing piece of land to show off – but because it pushed me to shape my gardens into the best shape they’ve ever been.

It took an army to pull off this transformation—21 bags of yard waste in all—and made me realize that my sisters might be right when they tell me to stop making new beds and take better care of what I do have already planted.

But will that stop me from buying plants next year? I think it’s safe to say that the answer is a resounding no. When this fever strikes, there’s probably no power in the world that can stop me from getting a discounted flower I covet.

I was already using the tour as an excuse to buy any plant that caught my eye, on the grounds that my spot as a garden writer had to look good. That’s why I’m doing an issue-free July. So if you see me in a garden center buying something, please stop me.

I’m sure I have a good reason why I need the three or four plants in my shopping cart.

Two disappointing articles. I never have time to label everything the way I wanted and why can’t we still have a garden culvert? People work in their garden all summer long.

I want to thank my girls, family, neighbors and friends for helping me pull this through. Even if it wasn’t the best stop on the tour, my gardens always bring me joy. And probably scared when I see all the weeds springing up again quickly.

Lincoln a site for biochar project

Lincoln is one of seven cities from Europe and the United States to accept the winning biochar project from the 2014 Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge in Stockholm.

The project will process plant debris from parks and homes – everything from grass clippings to trees and branches – into a char-like substance that residents can then use in their yards and gardens to help fight climate change. When used as a soil fertilizer, biochar promotes plant growth while simultaneously absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and locking it in the soil. It also reduces rainwater runoff.

Darmstadt, Germany; Helsingborg, Sweden; Sandnes, Norway; Helsinki, Finland; Cincinnati, Lincoln and Minneapolis will each receive up to $400,000 in funding and implementation and technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies to develop citywide biochar projects and engage residents in the fight against climate change.

In total, the projects are expected to produce 3,750 tons of biochar, which would sequester nearly 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of removing 6,250 cars from the roads per year. In addition, thousands of residents in the seven cities will contribute to the success of this work.

Lincoln plans to capture municipal wood waste for biochar production and use it to support tree planting, urban agriculture, public gardens, composting and stormwater treatment. Lincoln will establish its first biochar production facility in close collaboration with the Nebraska Forest Service, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and other stakeholders.

“Stockholm’s Biochar project is a remarkable example of how a great idea in one city can spur positive climate action in cities around the world,” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation Program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re excited to see city leaders in these next seven cities build on the lessons learned from Stockholm and make their own efforts to engage residents and cut carbon emissions to whole new heights.”

Since winning Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mayoral challenge in 2014 and opening its first of five planned biochar plants in 2017, the city of Stockholm has produced more than 100 tons of biochar and distributed it to 300,000 citizens.

I received a small bag of biochar with my Bloom Box from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and I’m excited to try it., 402-444-1034,


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