They emerge from the soil to devour grapes, roses and basil; how to win the beetle battle.
There is a long history of ethnic associations given to invasive insects. Often, they are given common names that can perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
We’ve seen this in the entomology world with the recent changing of the name of the spongy moth from the offensive name it once had.
Currently, the Entomological Society of America, also known as ESA, is asking citizen scientists and gardeners to help rename insects with potentially problematic names.
If you'd like to know more about the project and help give them better common names to insects, find more here.
And in this episode, we’re going to talk about an invasive species, a beetle with the common name or popillia japonica or Japanese beetle.
Though there are references to the invasive beetles' name being used as an anti-Asian sentiment, in Japan, this scarab beetle is a native insect.
In Japan, the beetle is not invasive. Its numbers are kept under control naturally by other insects and fungi that keep it in check.
The beetle arrived in the United States in 1916, most likely by traveling on cargo ships. And once the beetle arrived here, it spread all around, and is especially prevalent east of the Mississippi.
And these voracious beetles can do quite a number on your grapes, raspberries, roses and basil!
In the summer, Japanese beetles are feeding, mating and then laying eggs in the ground. Having a few long-term control methods can help mitigate the damage to your plants and crops.
An easy one doesn't require much more than a bowl of soapy water. Each morning, grab that bowl of soapy water and head out to your garden. Shake the affected plants, knocking the insects into the water. This works to control the beetles but you do have to be consistent.
Another technique is to use Japanese beetle traps. These traps contain a pheromone that lures the insects in. Because they work in this way, the placement of these traps is ultra important.
Set these traps far away from your garden - at least 100 feet away. And put the traps preferably on the side of your yard where the prevailing winds are. In the summer, this is usually the south side.
You can even use a few pheromone traps along the whole border of your yard. If you're overrun with Japanese beetles, you might even get together with your neighbors to create a "community trapping" to help keep beetle numbers down.
Another option is spraying beneficial nematodes in late August and early September.
These microscopic roundworms can go through the soil and actually parasitize the C-shaped Japanese beetle grubs that will hatch from eggs.
Q: I have a beautiful dining chairs that we want to get rid of. If I take out the cushions, they would make great plant supports for peonies and blackberries. But given that they're stained, is that safe in a berry garden? Or do I need to strip the paint and the stain off first? - David
A: For ornamental plants like peonies, it's probably okay to leave it painted. But your instinct to strip the paint and stain is correct if you're going to use the chair for edible plants. First, remove any varnish or paint chips then sand it down.
Q: I'm a backyard gardener. I still have much to learn about no-till regenerative gardening. But my question has to specifically do with weeding. I don't like to mulch often as I don't think it's environmentally friendly. But I found that using a hoe- both long and short handled - works beautifully when weeding. Is this type of weeding bad for the soil? Do we now have permission to just leave the weeds? - Kathy, in South Hero
A: There are a couple of ways to keep weeds down in a no-dig garden bed. First, if any weeds do crop up, use the type of hoe known as a scuffle hoe or a stirrup hoe.
This type of hoe will just cut the weeds right at the soil surface. Digging down any deeper will only bring up additional weed seeds.
Charlie Nardozzi and Friends talk about no-dig gardening
So while it feels like you're removing weeds by digging, it's really counterproductive. Digging continues the cycle of constantly weeding and constantly bringing up seeds.
They other thing to try in a no-dig bed is to plant things closer together. This crowds out the weeds!
Throughout the rest of the summer, try different succession plantings and plant crops closer together to see if that helps.
Q: I know that several things can cause peonies not to flower such as planting too deep or not deep enough or lack of sun. Plus they need time to settle in. How can I tell which is most likely? I did get one beautiful deep pink bloom this year, and obviously I'd like more. - Eileen, in Burlington
A: You are correct! If peonies aren't blooming, it's usually due to two reasons: lack of light and depth of planting.
As for lack of light, your peony needs six to eight hours of sun a day to really flower well.
More from Vermont Public- All Things Gardening on caring for peonies 'About to bloom, and exhale a rainbow: the peony!' Learn to grow this flower, revered in haiku
If you have a peony that's been around for a while and trees and other things have grown taller around it, your peony might not be getting sufficient sunlight.
So, if it seems that insufficient sunlight is the issues, come September, it may be time to dig it up and move it to a sunnier spot.
In terms of depth of planting, when you're putting your peony in the ground, make sure you plant so the crown where the roots and shoots meet is no deeper than a couple of inches below the soil line.
Take a good look at your peony to determine which issue it might be and then try to remedy it.
All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener!Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with Vermont Public host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublic.We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touchhere.