Japanese beetle infesting gardens around Denver

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DENVER — It is a silent killer that is taking a toll on many trees and gardens throughout south Denver, the Japanese beetle.

Garden Centers throughout the metro area say the areas hit the hardest seem to be Washington Park, Cherry Creek and the Denver Country Club. They also say that more and more customers from all around the front range are starting to complain about Japanese beetles.

“It’s not new but I think in the last three weeks we’ve really had people coming in,” said Trela Phelps, general manager at City Floral in Denver. “All of a sudden their grape vines look bullet-ridden.”

A group of neighbors in Washington Park says the summer feeding frenzy is on.

“We’ve been trying to get rid of them, they keeping coming back,” said Matt Lindsey. “All of the neighbors are running into the same problems.”

The Japanese beetle was discovered and eradicated in Palisade over a decade ago. Phelps says that this summer has seen a rampant resurgence.

“It’s probably every third question we get,” she said. “What do I do about these bugs?”

So what should you do?

“When they’re having a real infestation and their stuff is getting eaten alive, we recommend contact spray,” she said.

So for now it’s spray, or you can always go the old-fashioned way and pick the bugs out of your garden by hand. But it is, admittedly, a problem in which they are still searching for the correct answer.

“We’re trying some other things like Milky Spore and things like that we put in the ground, we just don’t know how effective they are in our soil,” Phelps said. “We haven’t had to do this, it used to be an East Coast issue, not in the Rocky Mountains.”

A recent study by Colorado State University says the Japanese beetle population is growing throughout the state. The study also lists some tips on how to control infestations.


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