Beetles munching on trees cause eyesore in the metro

Published: Jul. 28, 2016 at 3:32 PM CDT
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The skies are not gray, but the leaves on some trees across the metro are already turning brown. Officials say this isn’t the emerald ash borer that has caused the problem, but another insect that has recently appeared in the area.

“They feed in between the veins and they create this doily like damage,” said entomologist Jonathan Larson. “They attack the leaves typically.”

The culprit feeds on 300 different kinds of plants, including birch and linden trees, rose bushes and grape vines. You may have noticed that damage; it's from the top down. The Japanese beetle is to blame for all of it.

Larson says the beetle has been in the United States for around 100 years, making its way to Nebraska four years ago.

“They don't typically cause permanent damage. The tree will renew itself after a couple of months make some more leaves and hopefully recover from the damage,” he said. “We rarely see fatalities from Japanese beetles. It's just cosmetically a disaster.”

Unlike the emerald ash borer that attacks the three's trunk and branches, the Japanese beetle shouldn't be an issue for mature trees.

Damaged leaves should come back quickly. The beetle's life expectancy ends in another week or so. UNL Extension Office Arborist John Fech says homeowners can fight back, but at a cost.

The treatment is more of a revenge. You've had this damage going on for about 3-4 weeks now and they've caused a lot of damage,” Fech said. “At this point you don't really get that much return from that investment.”

Fech said there's really nothing to worry about. Most trees will easily bounce back.

“It’s an eye sore and it’s temporary damage,” he said.

Newer trees can be at risk; he says there are products that can found in garden stores. He recommends that if the tree is fairly tall or we're concerned about the long term health of younger trees to give an arborist a call.