Thursday morning, while isolating corn ear shoots at work, I heard the distinctive whirring of
the wing beats of Popillia japonica, the Japanese beetle! I tried to catch it as it whirred on past and manged to touch it, but not catch it. This cute, medium-sized scarab is, as the names suggest, yet another introduced species from Japan. When I went running after work, I saw several P. japonica on: Sorghum halepense (Johnson grass), Torilis arvensis (introduced umbel-thing), and Erigeron sp. After my run, I examined a nearby pre-reproductive corn field and found P. japonica in the whorl of roughly 10% of the plants. Of course, P. japonica eating at the whorl of vegetative plants isn’t the big problem for corn producers – it is when P. japonica eats the silks of developing ears that P. japonica costs corn producers money, because without silks the kernels that farmers get paid for don’t form. Of course, P. japonica is not just a bad deal for corn producers as this blog post by Kelly V. Tindall shows.
Our neighbor told us there will be hundreds on her peach tree and they will be super abundant during July. Here they come!