Popillia japonica (Japanese beetle)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Detection and Inspection
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Popillia japonica Newman
Preferred Common Name
- Japanese beetle
International Common Names
- English: beetle, Japanese
- Spanish: escarabajo japonés
- French: hanneton japonais; scarabé japonais
Local Common Names
- Denmark: Japanbille
- Germany: Japankäfer; Kaefer, Japan-
- Italy: scarabeo giapponese
- Japan: mame-kogane
- Sweden: Japanbagge
- POPIJA (Popillia japonica)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The Japanese beetle was first discovered in New Jersey, USA in 1916. It probably entered the USA as grubs with iris bulbs before 1912 when plant materials were first examined. Although not a pest in Japan, extensive, well-watered, turf, and a lack of parasites, allowed populations to rapidly build up and spread steadily west to the Mississippi River. The loss of the chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides, and the end of the Federal quarantine on nursery stock, has allowed beetles to move into western states at a rapid rate. Beetles are pests of quarantine concern in the western USA and Europe. P. japonica was found on Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal in the 1980s. Again, extensive turf allowed establishment of beetles, population explosions, the infestation of that island, and subsequently of three more of the Azorean Islands. Beetles have moved considerably outside of the climatic conditions in their native Japan.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Scarabaeidae
- Genus: Popillia
- Species: Popillia japonica
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, is a member of the order Coleoptera, family Scarabaeidae, subfamily Rutelinae and tribe Anomlini.
DescriptionTop of page
Newly-laid eggs are about 1.5 mm long, pearly white and oblong. Eggs absorb water from the soil, becoming spherical and nearly doubling in size within a week. The external surface of the protection chorion is marked with small hexagonal areas. The developing embryo can be seen within the eggs that are close to hatching (Fleming, 1972a).
P. japonica larvae are typical scarabaeid grubs (Fleming, 1972a). The head is yellowish-brown, with strong, dark-coloured mandibles. The body consists of three thoracic segments, each with a pair of jointed legs, and a 10-segmented abdomen. The grubs assume a typical, scarab, C-shaped position in the soil. The cuticle is transversely wrinkled and is covered with scattered brown hairs, which are interspersed with short, blunt, brown spines. The raster, located on the ventral side of the last abdominal segment, has many scattered, brown, hooked spines; medially, two conspicuous rows of 6-7 shorter straight spines are arranged in the form of a truncated V. This V-shaped arrangement on the raster distinguishes P. japonica from other larval scarabaeids in the USA. The last abdominal segment also bears many yellowish hairs at the sides and the end.
Newly-hatched grubs are about 1.5 mm long and translucent white. The abdominal area becomes dark once the larva has fed and the rectal sacs, or fermentation chambers, fill with soil. There are three instars. Just prior to moulting, first and second instars attain average middorsal lengths of 10.5 and 18.5 mm, respectively, whereas the mature, third instar, averages 32 mm. Head capsules of first, second and third instars average 1.2 mm wide and 0.7 mm long, 1.9 mm wide and 1.2 mm long, and 3.1 mm wide and 2.1 mm long, respectively.
When mature, the grub stops feeding, voids the gut so that the rectal sacs lose their dark appearance, and become cream-coloured and a pale, somewhat shrunken prepupa. The body straightens out, except for a slight crook at the caudal end. Eventually, the developing appendages are everted from their sacs and lie outside the newly developed pupal cuticula, beneath the old larval cuticula. The transformation to prepupa and pupa, both of which are very delicate, occurs in an earthen cell formed by the mature larva (Fleming, 1972a).
The young pupa forms within the old larval and prepupal exuviae, which changes in appearance to a fine, light tan, mesh-like tissue. This shroud-like covering splits along the middorsal line as the pupa develops. The pupa, which averages 14 mm long and 7 mm wide, resembles the adult beetle, except the wings and other appendages are closely folded to the body. It is a pale-cream colour at first, gradually becoming tan and finally taking on the metallic green of the adult (Fleming, 1972a).
Fleming (1972a) published an illustrated description of the beetle, including characters on the fore tibia and tarsi by which the sexes can be distinguished (the male tibial spur is hook-like, not spatulate, and the tarsi attach at the end of the tibia, not upto a few mm). The adult is an attractive, broadly oval beetle, 8-11 mm long, and about 5-7 mm wide. Females are usually slightly bigger than males. The head and body are dark, metallic green, with darker copper-green legs. The coppery-brown elytra, which do not quite reach the tip of the abdomen, expose a row of five lateral patches of white hairs on each side of the abdomen, and a pair of these patches on the dorsal surface of the last abdominal segment. These white patches on the green abdomen distinguish P. japonica from all other beetles that resemble it in the USA. However, there are several similar Popillia species in the far-east that require an expert to distinguish them from P. japonica (see Ping, 1988).
DistributionTop of page
P. japonica originates from north-eastern Asia where it is native in northern Japan and in the far east of Russia (Fleming, 1972a). Fleming’s (1972a) report of P. japonica in China and Korea, probably referred to closely-related species, but not the Japanese beetle (Ping, 1988; Reed et al., 1990).
In Japan, the beetle is most abundant in northern Honshu and all of Hokkaido where grasslands occur, but it does not reach the high population densities that occur in the USA. It is common, but not abundant in Kyushu, Shikoku and southern Honshu. It was not considered to be a pest in Japan until the increase in golf courses, and is still not the major scarab pest species.
In the USA, P. japonica, is established in all states boarding, or east of the Mississippi River, with the possible exception of Florida. Several western states have isolated established populations of the beetle. Pest survey data are submitted to NAPIS by participating USA states in the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) with USDA, APHIS, PPQ and the resulting distribution of P. japonica in the USA is mapped from 2001 to the present (2010), and can be found here: http://www.ceris.purdue.edu/napis/pests/jb/mgif/jbnation.gif. See also Smith et al. (1997).
In Russia, the last report of P. japonica restricted it to the South Kirile region of Sakhalin, on the island of Kunashir (Chebanov, 1977). It is absent in the EPPO region except for Terceira Island, Azores (Portugal), where the pest probably spread from the USA air base (Simoes, 1984). An infestation on the island of Faial was found in 1996. More recently Pico and San Miguel both become infested in 2006. Both Terceira and Faial are generally infested, but eradication programmes are being considered for the isolated infestations on Pico and San Miguel.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Absent, invalid record||Ping, 1988; EPPO, 2014|
|-Heilongjiang||Absent, invalid record||Ping, 1988; EPPO, 2014|
|-Hong Kong||Absent, invalid record||Ping, 1988; EPPO, 2014|
|-Hunan||Absent, invalid record||CIE, 1978; Ping, 1988|
|-Jilin||Absent, invalid record||Ping, 1988; EPPO, 2014|
|India||Absent, formerly present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Hokkaido||Present||Fleming, 1972a; CIE, 1978; Tashiro, 1987; EPPO, 2014||Whole island|
|-Honshu||Present||Fleming, 1972a; CIE, 1978; Tashiro, 1987; EPPO, 2014|
|-Kyushu||Present||Fleming, 1972a; CIE, 1978; Tashiro, 1987; EPPO, 2014||Light infestation|
|-Shikoku||Present||Fleming, 1972a; CIE, 1978; Tashiro, 1987; EPPO, 2014|
|Korea, DPR||Absent, unreliable record||EPPO, 2014|
|Korea, Republic of||Absent, invalid record||Reed et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014|
|Taiwan||Absent, formerly present||EPPO, 2014|
|Canada||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Nova Scotia||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014|
|-Ontario||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014||Southeastern|
|-Quebec||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014||Southern|
|USA||Restricted distribution||1916||EPPO, 2014|
|-Alabama||Present, few occurrences||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Arkansas||Present||Wickizer and Gergerich, 2007|
|-Colorado||Present, few occurrences||NAPIS, 2009|
|-Connecticut||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Delaware||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Georgia||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Illinois||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Indiana||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Iowa||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Kansas||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014|
|-Kentucky||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Maine||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Maryland||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Massachusetts||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Michigan||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Minnesota||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014|
|-Missouri||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Nebraska||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014|
|-New Hampshire||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-New Jersey||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-New Mexico||Present||NAPIS, 2009|
|-New York||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-North Carolina||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Ohio||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Oklahoma||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Pennsylvania||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Rhode Island||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-South Carolina||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Tennessee||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Vermont||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Virginia||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Washington||Present||CIE, 1978; NAPIS, 2009|
|-West Virginia||Present||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Wisconsin||Present, few occurrences||CIE, 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|Belgium||Absent, no pest record||EPPO, 2014|
|Portugal||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Azores||Restricted distribution||Simoes Avila-Simoes, 1984; EPPO, 2014||On four of nine islands|
|Russian Federation||Restricted distribution||Smetnit et al., 1978; EPPO, 2014|
|-Russian Far East||Restricted distribution||CIE, 1978; Smetnit et al., 1978; EPPO, 2014|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
P. japonica is an A1 quarantine organism for EPPO (OEPP/EPPO, 1980), and is also of quarantine significance for CPPC, JUNAC, NAPPO, and OIRSA. Within the USA, P. japonica is the object of an USDA/APHIS quarantine, restricting interstate movement of aircraft from regulated airports (USDA-APHIS, 2004). The interstate shipment of plant material is covered by the US Domestic Japanese Beetle Harmonization Plan (National Plant Board, 2004). Very few of the P. japonica infestations in states west of the Mississippi River have been associated with movement of beetles by aircraft.
Temperature and particularly soil moisture are the main factors limiting potential spread of the beetle into new areas. According to Fleming (1972a), the Japanese beetle is adapted to regions were the mean soil temperature is between 17.5 and 27.5oC during the summer, and above -9.4oC in the winter. It should be noted that the winter temperature is 0.5-1.0 m below ground surface where the larvae overwinter. In addition, precipitation must be adequate and rather uniformly distributed throughout the year, averaging at least 25 cm during the summer. However, these parameters were established before irrigation was prevalent in much of the midwest and western USA. The Japanese beetle distribution in the USA is far south of the beetle distribution in its native Japan. The distribution in Japan may be influenced by other species of Popillia, or other scarabs, competing for limited resources.
Allsopp (1996) used a computer-generated modified Match Index to analyze climatic suitability and predict the potential worldwide distribution of P. japonica. According to the model, in North America the beetle has the potential to spread west to the middle of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, south to the middle of South Carolina and Georgia, and most of Alabama and Mississippi. The Japanese beetle has already met or exceeded all of these parameters in the past 12 years. The southern parts of the Canadian Maritimes and eastern British Columbia, and parts of Washington and Oregon are also suitable. Indeed, Oregon has had several P. japonica infestations, as has California, and now Colorado and Utah. In addition Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia all have infestations in eastern Canada. Most of continental Europe, except most of Scandinavia and the Mediterranean areas, are suitable, as are the UK and Ireland. Suitable areas in Asia include the Caucasus and areas to the north, eastern central China, and the Korean Peninsula. In Africa, the mountains of Morocco and coastal south-eastern South Africa seem suitable. In the Southern Hemisphere, the south-eastern highlands of Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Rio de la Plata area between Argentina and Uruguay, and parts of costal Chile are suitable. Once established in these areas, P. japonica could cause enormous damage and significant economic loss. It is interesting to note that unlike the weevils, no scarab has established on the opposite side of the equator from its native land (Jackson and Klein, 2006).
Habitat ListTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
In the USA, adult P. japonica have been observed feeding on at least 295 species of plants in 79 plant families (Fleming, 1972a). These include small fruits, tree fruits, vegetable and garden crops, field crops, woody and herbaceous ornamentals, shade trees, various weeds, and many non-economic species. Economic damage has been recorded on more than 100 species. The beetles are particularly attracted to certain species of Aceraceae, Anacardiaceae, Betulaceae, Clethraceae, Ericaceae, Fagaceae, Gramineae, Hippocastanaceae, Juglandaceae, Lauraceae, Leguminosae, Liliaceae, Lythraceae, Malvaceae, Onagraceae, Platanaceae, Polygonaceae, Rosaceae, Salicaceae, Tiliaceae, Ulmaceae and Vitaceae. The grubs feed on roots of a wide range of vegetable crops, ornamental plants and tender grasses. In Japan, the host range appears to be smaller than in North America.
Within the EPPO region, the host range of P. japonica would be similar. Malus, Prunus, Rubus and Vitis, with their wide distribution and intensive cultivation, would be especially favourable food sources for the adults. Lush pasture and turfgrasses provide a favourable habitat for the grubs.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)||Liliaceae||Main|
|Glycine max (soyabean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Juglans nigra (black walnut)||Juglandaceae||Other|
|Lagerstroemia indica (Indian crape myrtle)||Lythraceae||Wild host|
|Malus (ornamental species apple)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)||Vitaceae||Wild host|
|Polygonum (knotweed)||Polygonaceae||Wild host|
|Prunus (stone fruit)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Prunus domestica (plum)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Rheum hybridum (rhubarb)||Polygonaceae||Main|
|Rubus (blackberry, raspberry)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Sassafras albidum (common sassafras)||Lauraceae||Other|
|Sorbus americana (American mountainash)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Pre-emergence, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page
Skeletonized foliage is the most common symptom of feeding by the adult. The beetles generally feed from the upper surface of leaves, chewing out the tissue between the veins and leaving a lacelike skeleton. Severely damaged leaves soon turn brown and drop. The adults are gregarious, usually beginning to feed on foliage at the top of a plant and working downward. On some plants with thin leaves and fine venation, and on petals of flowers, the beetles consume irregularly-shaped sections in the same manner as many Lepidoptera. Plants with thick, tough leaves are usually not attacked, but when such leaves are eaten (Concord grapes), the feeding is often restricted to the palisade mesophyll and does not penetrate to the lower leaf surface.
Maize is one field crop seriously damaged in North America. The beetles feed on the maturing silk, preventing pollination; this results in malformed kernels and reduced yield. This appears to be more of a back-yard maize growing situation because the light-loving beetles rarely venture more than 1-2 rows into a maize field. However, beetles can feed over an entire soyabean field and cause their damage. They also defoliate asparagus, nearly all varieties of grapes, and many fruit-bearing trees, especially apple, cherry, plum, and peach. Beetles can aggregate and feed in large numbers on the fruit of early-ripening varieties of apple, peach, nectarine, plum, raspberries, and quince. This feeding renders fruit unmarketable, unless they have been protected by pesticides.
The larvae are most abundant in well-kept lawns and golf courses, and less often in pastures. As the grub feeds just below the surface, it cuts off and consumes the grass roots. Early symptoms include thinning, yellowing, and wilting, culminating in large patches of dead, brown grass that appears in late summer or early autumn because of water stress, and less often in the following spring when more moisture is normally available. When grubs are numerous (400/m2+) the root system is completely severed and the sod can be lifted or rolled back like a carpet. Secondary damage from skunks, raccoons, crows, or other predators often causes more disruption to the sward than the grubs themselves. Feeding by grubs on roots of maize, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, nursery seedlings, or other crops reduces their vitality and yield and sometimes kills the plants. Damage is often most severe when these crops are planted into areas which were previously turf.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / abnormal shape|
|Fruit / external feeding|
|Inflorescence / external feeding|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Roots / external feeding|
|Roots / reduced root system|
|Whole plant / dwarfing|
|Whole plant / external feeding|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Recent general reviews of P. japonica should be consulted for additional information on this pest (Potter, 1998; Vittum et al., 1999; Potter and Held, 2002; Jackson and Klein, 2006). Fleming (1972a) provided a detailed account of the biology of P. japonica. Larvae (mainly third-instar) overwinter in an earthen cell about 15-20 cm deep in the soil. In early spring, when the soil temperatures increase to about 10oC, the grubs move closer to the surface and resume feeding on plant roots at 2.5 to 5.0 cm depth. Pupation usually occurs after 4-6 weeks of feeding, and the adults emerge from mid-May to mid-July, depending on latitude.
Mating begins at emergence, and egg-laying soon follows. Virgin females produce a volatile sex pheromone (Ladd, 1970), identified and called Japonilure (Tumlinson et al., 1977). Early in the seasonal flight period, aggregations containing up to many dozens of males form on the ground around a single, emerging female. Females also remate on food plants between bouts of oviposition, with the last male’s sperm being used. The beetles normally feed in groups, usually starting near the top of a plant and working downward (Fleming, 1972a; Rowe and Potter, 1996). The adults are attracted to feeding-induced plant volatiles, resulting in aggregation on damaged plants (Fleming, 1972a; Loughrin et al., 1996). Females may leave host plants during the day and fly to suitable sites for oviposition. Areas with moist, loamy soil covered with turf or pasture grasses are preferred (Fleming, 1972a; Allsopp et al., 1992). Eggs are laid singly or in small clusters (2-4 eggs) in the upper 7.5 cm of soil. The cycle of feeding, mating and oviposition is repeated every few days. The average lifespan of a female is 30-45 days, during which she may lay 40-60 eggs.
Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks, and the young larvae begin feeding on fine roots and organic matter. They moult and become second-instars after 2-3 weeks, and third-instars after 3-4 weeks more. Feeding continues until late autumn, when the grubs move deeper into the soil in response to declining soil temperatures. At the latitude of Virginia and Maryland, the populations consist of mainly adults and eggs in July, first- and second-instars by mid-August, second- and third-instars by early September, and third-instars from late September to late April, and prepupae and pupae in May and early June. Normally, there is one generation per year, even in the most southern areas, but at the northern edge of its range, a few individuals may need 2 years to complete the life cycle (Fleming, 1972a; Vittum, 1986; Vittum et al., 1999).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Adapsilia flaviseta||USA||ornamental plants|
|Bacillus popilliae lentimorbus||Pathogen|
|Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae||Pathogen|
|Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis||Pathogen||Larvae||USA, Japan||turf|
|Beauveria bassiana||Pathogen||Adults/Larvae||USA||ornamentals, turf|
|Campsomeris annulata||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Campsomeris marginella modesta||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Craspedonotus tibialis||Predator||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Dexia ventralis||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Entoderma colletosporium||Pathogen||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Erythrocera genalis||Parasite||Adults||Fleming, 1968|
|Eutrixopsis javana||Parasite||Adults||Fleming, 1968|
|Hamaxia incongrua||Parasite||Adults||Fleming, 1968|
|Heterorhabditis bacteriophora||Parasite||Larvae||Azores, USA||turf|
|Istocheta aldrichi||Parasite||Adults||USA||ornamental plants, turf|
|Istocheta ussuriensis||Parasite||Adults||Fleming, 1968|
|Metarhizium anisopliae||Pathogen||Adults/Larvae||Azores, USA||ornamentals, turf|
|Ovavesicula popilliae||Pathogen||Larvae||Connecticut, Michigan, USA||turf|
|Prosena siberita||Parasite||Larvae||New Jersey, USA||turf|
|Rickettsiella popilliae||Pathogen||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Scolia japonica||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Steinernema feltiae||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Steinernema glaseri||Parasite||Larvae||Azores, New Jersey, USA||turf|
|Steinernema riobravis||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Steinernema scapterisci||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Steinernema scarabaei||Parasite||Larvae||New Jersey, USA||turf|
|Tiphia asericae||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia biseculata||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia brevilineata||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia burrelli||Parasite||USA||ornamental plants|
|Tiphia communis||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia koreana||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia matura||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia notopolita||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia phyllophagae||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia popilliavora||Parasite||Larvae||Virginia, USA||turf|
|Tiphia pullivora||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia tegitiplaga||Parasite||Larvae||Fleming, 1968|
|Tiphia vernalis||Parasite||Larvae||eastern USA||turf|
|Trophops clauseni||Parasite||Adults||Fleming, 1968|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Several indigenous, generalist, predators, especially ants and ground beetles, help to suppress Japanese beetle populations by feeding on eggs and grubs (Terry et al., 1993; Zenger and Gibb, 2001). Both adults and larvae are fed upon by various birds including starlings, crows, grackles, and gulls. Moles, skunks, raccoons and armadillos, feed on the grubs, but cause considerable damage to the turf or pastures. No native parasitic insect attacks P. japonica in North America. However, at least three species of imported parasitic insects have become established in eastern and midwest states (see 'Prevention and Control'). Grubs are susceptible to several naturally-occurring fungal pathogens including Metarrhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana, entomopathogenic nematodes including Steinernema and Heterorhabditis species, bacterial pathogens such as Paneibacillus popilliae, the protozoan, Ovavesicula popilliae, and the rickettsia Rickettsiella popilliae. Unfortunately, humans are also susceptible to the rickettsia.
For further information see reviews by Fleming (1968), Potter and Held (2002), and Jackson and Klein (2006), and the text section on 'Prevention and Control'. Natural enemy records from older literature are presented in the 'Natural Enemy' table, and referenced as Fleming (1968).
ImpactTop of page
P. japonica is the single most destructive insect pest on golf courses, lawns and pastures, and on herbaceous and woody landscape plants in the eastern USA (Tashiro, 1987; Potter, 1998; Vittum et al., 1999). A decade ago it was estimated that more than $460 million is spent each year to control the grubs and adults, and about $156 million in renovating or replacing damaged turf or ornamental plants (USDA/APHIS, 2000). Damage to tree fruits, small fruits, maize, and soybeans is also significant. In addition, many millions of US dollars, and considerable quantities of pesticides, are also lost trying to limit the beetle’s spread by nursery stock and aeroplanes in North America. The Japanese beetle has never been a major pest in Japan, and has not caused extensive damage up to this point in the Azores. Costs connected with quarantine concerns are likely to increase greatly with the discovery of the beetle on San Miguel Island, USA.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Highly mobile locally
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Altered trophic level
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Host damage
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced amenity values
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Soil accretion
- Transportation disruption
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult/costly to control
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Adult P. japonica are easily detected by inspecting the most vulnerable plants for aggregations of beetles on foliage, flowers, or fruits (not blueberries), or for skeletonized leaves during the beetles flight period in early- to mid-summer. Adults are most active on warm days between 10 am and 3 pm. Traps containing the three part food-type lure (phenethyl propionate + eugenol + geraniol) and the sex attractant (Japonilure) (Ladd et al., 1981) are widely used in the USA and Azores for monitoring and survey purposes, and to delineate infestations. Grubs can be detected by cutting sections of sod with a spade or golf cup cutter in late summer, autumn, or in early spring and examining the soil and roots to a depth of about 8 cm. For grubs in nursery trees, removal and examination of soil down to 30 cm may be required to get an accurate sample.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
The destructive potential and economic importance of this pest have led to intensive studies of various means for control. Note that the adults and grubs cause very different types of damage, above ground and below ground. Because the adults can fly considerable distances, controlling one life stage will not necessarily preclude problems with the other.
Fleming (1972a) provided a ranking of the extent of feeding by adult P. japonica on 435 plant species in 95 families. Within some generally susceptible genera such as Betula, Malus and Tilia, less susceptible cultivars have been found (Ranney and Walgenbach, 1992; Spicer et al. 1995; Potter et al., 1998). Use of resistant, or less susceptible species and cultivars when planning a landscape, or replacing damaged plant material, is a key to managing adults. Highly susceptible trees such as Sassafras, Prunus cerasifera, Ancer ploatanoides, and Tillia spp., or certain wild plants, such as species of Malva, Parthenocissus, Polygonum, and Vitis, will attract numerous beetles.
Although tolerance varies, all species of cool-season turfgrasses are susceptible to the grubs (Potter et al., 1992). Infection of tall fescue, Festuca arundinacae or perennial ryegrass, Lolium perenne, with fungal endophytes (Neotyphodium spp.) does not provide resistance to this pest.
Physical removal and exclusion
Hand removal may provide some control for small plantings. Beetles on plants are sluggish in the morning, before 9 am, or when the temperature is <21oC, and can be killed by picking them, or shaking them, into a bucket of soapy water (Ladd and Klein, 1982). This is most effective when done before damage to the plants. High-value plants such as roses can be protected with fine netting or Reemay fabric around each blossom during the period of beetle activity.
Although mass trapping has held isolated populations in check, and reduced the regulatory situation at some airports, it has not been effective in reducing established P. japonica infestations. However, Japanese beetle traps are an important tool in the identification and delimitation of new P. japonica infestations. California (Potter and Held, 2002) and Oregon monitor 10,000 and 5,000 traps per year, respectively, and have both eradicated isolated infestations in their states. Other western states utilize traps to a lesser extent. Small-scale trapping may aggravate defoliation damage in landscapes because the traps may attract more beetles than actually enter the traps (Gordon and Potter, 1985). Although beetles can fly up to 5 miles, they rarely do, and are not attracted to traps more than 50-100 m away (Lacey et al., 1994).
Female beetles seek out sites that are most optimal for egg laying and survival (Allsopp et al., 1992). Withholding irrigation during peak beetle flight can help to reduce subsequent grub populations in time of drought, and in naturally dry areas (Potter et al., 1996). In contrast, rainfall or irrigation in summer and early autumn, during early instar feeding, promotes tolerance and recovery of grub-damaged turfgrass. Vigorous, well-watered turf can withstand two to three times the normal threshold of grubs (ca. 100/m2) that would destroy a weak, wilted, or starved sward. Raising cutting height, and maintaining a balanced fertility regime to promote growth of roots also enhances tolerance of root-feeding by grubs (Crutchfield et al., 1995).
During 1920-1933, the USDA imported about 49 species of parasites of P. japonica and related scarabs from the orient and Australia and released them into Japanese beetle-infested areas in the USA (Fleming, 1968). Only a few of these became established, the most widely distributed are Tiphia vernalis, a wasp that parasitizes overwintered grubs in the spring, and Istocheta aldrichi, a tachinid fly that parasitizes adults (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/biologicalcontrol). The spring Tiphia seems to be well-established throughout the beetle-inhabiting areas. Istocheta had been restricted to the New England states, but has recently been established in North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri, USA (Jackson and Klein, 2006). A third established parasitoid, Tiphia popilliavora, the fall tiphia, has not been recovered since 1969, although isolated populations may still be present. These parasitoids provide some suppression, particularly I. aldrichi, in areas with restricted turf, but do not usually provide adequate beetle control.
Spores of Paenibacillus (=Bacillus) popilliae, the primary causal agent of milky disease in P. japonica were widely distributed in colonization programmes around the middle of the last century in eastern USA (Fleming, 1968). Although milky disease is one of the primary natural biological agents reducing Japanese beetle populations, the value of augmenting this natural incidence with commercial spore powder has come under question (Redmond and Potter, 1995; Potter and Held, 2002; Jackson and Klein, 2006). Another bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis – serovar japonensis, strain Buibui, has shown strong larvacidal activity against P. japonica and other grubs (Ohba et al., 1992; Alm et al., 1997), but lacks a commercial product in the USA.
Entomopathogenic nematodes in the genera Steinernema and Heterorhabditis are the most commonly used pathogens against P. japonica. Nematodes such as Steinernema glaseri and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora are better-adapted to locate and parasitize the grubs in the soil (Gaugler et al., 1997). Wright et al. (1988) showed that nematodes could be used to control P. japonica grubs in container-grown nursery plants. Techniques for using these nematodes can be found at http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/nematodes, or in the training video “Entomopathogenic Nematodes: Tools for pest management” (Gaugler and Klein, 1998). Autodissemination of the fungus Metarrhizium anisopliae has been used to suppress Japanese beetle populations in the Azores and the USA (Klein and Lacey, 1999; Vega et al., 2007).
Adult beetles have been controlled by treating susceptible plants with carbamates, organophosphates, or more recently, pyrethroid insecticides (Potter, 1998; Potter and Held, 2002). After the banning of long-residual insecticides grubs were treated with short-residual organophosphates and carbamates. More recently, neonicotinyl (imidacloprid) and moult accelerators (halofenozide) have been used for preventive larval control in turf (Potter and Held, 2002), and may have an effect for more than 1 year (George et al., 2007).
Control of larvae in nursery stock is a far greater problem with quarantine concerns. Approved procedures are limited to chlorpyrifos dips of balled and burlapped nursery stock, and application of Marathon (imidacloprid) and Discus (imidacloprid + cyfouthrin) to field stock (Mannion et al., 2000; 2001; National Plant Board, 2004; Oliver et al., 2007). None of these materials provide 100% mortality of grubs, resulting in the three west-coast states (CA, OR, WA) prohibiting plants with any soil. Adult beetles are usually eliminated from fresh produce by commercial grading. However, grading has failed to remove P. japonica from blueberries, where adult beetles eat inside the berry and can not be seen. Movement of beetles by aircraft from infested to protected States is regulated by USDA/APHIS (2004). Compliance agreements require aircraft at regulated airports to be sprayed with an insecticide. In addition, express package services have expended millions of dollars to use physical excluders and teams of beetle spotters to reduce the chance of beetles getting on a plane. Aircraft are examined upon arrival in protected USA states, and retreated if live beetles are found.
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
27/03/2008 Updated by:
Michael Klein, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Adjunct Associate Professor, 1680 Madison Avenue, Wooster, OH 44691, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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