Organic control of Japanese Beetles

Teresa Brockman fought Japanese beetles on her fruit and herb farm in Eureka several years ago. She was told the invasion would be cyclical.

However, this year Japanese beetles have returned with a vengeance, worse than ever, consuming many plants to the point they may not survive the winter.

Brockman believes climate change is altering a natural cycle, and these pests may become an annual plague. She is evaluating her balance of 25 different kinds of fruits and 30 culinary and tea herbs, considering elimination of those most attractive to Japanese beetles.

In the meantime, she fights the onslaught.

Brockman’s Sunny Lane Farm: Teresa’s Fruit and Herbs follows the rules of the National Organic Standards Board. She uses no chemicals. She fights the beetle invasion with a bucket of soapy water. About 6:30 a.m. and again toward sunset, she holds the bucket of soapy water under beetles as they consume leaves and she knocks the bugs into the water. A few drops of soap in the water breaks the surface tension and the beetles quickly drown.

Considering she farms on more than 3 acres, this is a time-consuming battle but Brockman will never consider toxic chemicals.

“Our days are consumed with fighting beetles and picking fruit. We have no time even for weeding,” she said as she walked through her orchard, kiwi arbor and row crops, all of which seemed orderly and well-weeded.

“I would never consider using bad chemicals. I have an obligation to my customers and to myself. Using chemicals does not give a better result than the bucket method. So why not go for the safest method?”


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