Monday, July 18, 2011

Japanese Beetles and My Picky Chickens and Guineas

This last fall we planted a dozen various fruit trees.  We planted a selection of apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum and even a kiwi.  We bought them online at Stark Brothers Nursery.

Overall they have done really well, except for the plum, kiwi and one of the apple trees.  The plum was just a stick with no roots, so not sure what happened there.  The kiwi was but a sprout, and that died out.  The apple tree death was due to the boys.  When we got a bit of snow this last winter, they were being towed on a sled behind the neighbor's ATV and swung wide.  They went past the tree and the rope did a great job of cutting the tree right at the base.

All that is left of the apple tree after the boys decapitation.

They have a one year guarantee, so we will get those replaced early this fall and try again, although we may skip the kiwi as we later learned it was a vine, not a tree.  Not sure I want to deal with that at this point.  Although the trees have done well overall, we probably would have bought locally if we had known last fall that everyone would be selling fruit trees locally in the spring.  Being from AZ, how were we supposed to know?

The last couple weeks we have noticed that there are a lot of Japanese Beetles on the cherry trees, and starting to head to the apple trees.  For some reason, they don't like the peach trees.  After purchasing some spray at the hardware store, the Good Wife pointed out that it is extremely toxic, not only to humans and every living creature, but particularly to honey bees!  Yikes!  I can't do that.  The online search began for an organic method to control the Japanese Beetles.

Cherry tree eaten by Japanese Beetles.

One website mentioned to pick them off by hand and place into soapy water to kill them if you don't have a lot of trees.  Since we had less than a dozen, that seemed like a good idea.  Later on the website it mentioned that if you had chickens, you could feed the beetles to the chickens and they would really like them.  Aha!  Save the trees and give the chickens and guineas a treat!

So this morning I went out to the trees and picked all the Japanese beetles off the cherry trees and placed them into a glass jar.  After collecting about two dozen beetles, I went down to the poultry run to deliver my special treat to the chickens and guineas.  Before opening the run, I went inside and dumped the jar of beetles on the ground.  The chickens stopped and looked at the beetles, then looked at me, as if to say, "You want me to do what with those?  You want me to eat those?  Gross!"  They totally ignored the beetles.  I opened up the run to let them free range and they all took off, out of the run.  They had no interest in the beetles at all. I had to go back into the coop and step on all the beetles to kill them so they didn't head back to the trees.

Japanese beetles making more beetles after eating the leaf empty.

Who would have known that the chickens would be so picky.  Maybe I need to give the beetles to the chickens after they are out of the run and aren't distracted with getting free.  Or maybe they would be a better treat before bedtime when they head back to the coop at the end of the day.  I'm not going to give up on this, since if the chickens do acquire a taste for these little beetles, they may search them out and help save my fruit trees.  Stay tuned to see if my chickens only like "free-range" bugs.

No comments:

Post a Comment