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Grow with KARE: The fly that kills Japanese beetles

If you spot a white dot on the back of a Japanese beetle, let that one live! It's the egg of a special fly that's on our side.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Let’s talk Japanese beetles. 

As tedious as it sounds, the best way to deal with them is to hand pick them off your plants and plop them into a buckets of soapy water.

Research shows those trap bags you see hanging end up attracting more to your yard in the long run. Avoid those.

So while you’re handpicking, if you come across one with a white dot on its back, let it be! That white dot is the egg of a winsome fly, which is one creature that can help control Japanese beetles.

The egg of the winsome hatches 24 hours after it's laid. The larva then penetrates the body of the Japanese beetle, making it unable to fly. The beetle will then fall to the ground and bury itself. Eventually, it dies five or six days later. 

The winsome fly larva lives in the beetle's dead body all winter and emerges in the spring.

A female winsome fly can lay hundreds of eggs, so this is a predator we want around! To attract these good bugs to your yard, current research recommends planting many small, shallow-flowered plants, umbel shaped flowers like coriander and dill crucifers, like sweet alyssum and mustard, and flowers in the aster family like chamomile, daisies and yarrow.

Until then… keep picking!

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