Japanese Beetles Are Causing More Damage Than Usual This Year
It is likely that all farmers fear some insect pests more than others, since different insect pests prefer to feed on different types of crops. For farmers located in the midwest, the invasive insects known as Japanese beetles are likely considered the most costly and devastating of all insect pests. These beetles can spread damage rapidly, and experts have good reason to believe that 2017 will be one of the worst years in history for farmers dealing with Japanese beetle invasions on their cropland. Unfortunately, experts believe that these invasive beetles could become a problem for farmers all over the United States, and not merely for farmers operating in midwestern regions. This is due to the Japanese beetles appetite, as these beetles treat nearly all commercial crops as abundant sources of great-tasting food. There are not many agricultural food products that Japanese beetles avoid, and they multiply and travel fast.
According to Dennis Bowman from the Agricultural Department at the University of Illinois Extension, Japanese beetles are well known for their ability to completely destroy soybean crops, but these pests also enjoy feeding on grapes, and corn silk. So far, there have been numerous reports of crop damage caused by Japanese beetles in illinois and other midwestern states. These reports almost exclusively describe beetle damage to soybean crops. Several midwestern counties have described unusually large Japanese beetle populations. As a result of this clear increase in Japanese beetle activity, many experts in the field of agriculture fear that these beetles will cause crop damage in other states where they are typically far less problematic to crops.
This past winter was unusually mild, which resulted in far fewer insect deaths. The Japanese beetle is particularly adept at surviving the winter seasons, so any summer that follows a mild winter will see an increase in crop damage from Japanese beetles. Another problematic aspect of Japanese beetle activity is the fact that they are well adapted to social behavior. For example, these beetles release pheromones once they locate large food sources. These pheremones travel long distances in order to draw other Japanese beetles to the new food source. Experts are recommending that farmers increase their monitoring efforts in order to contain these beetle pests before they spread across the US.
What other factors, not mentioned in the article, could make Japanese beetles unusually damaging when compared to other insect pests?