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July 12, 2005


Patricia Tryon

Our bird feeder attracts some crows. I hadn't been very nice to them because they run off the littler birds, but if they truly eat up those gol-dang beetles, I guess I better put out the welcome mat. Honestly, though, they do look like the thugs of the bird world. (That impression fades with the peace-loving mourning doves fly in and the crows take off, post haste!)

Chan S.

I get the feeling that running after beetles is too much effort for crows, who'd just as soon scam their supper than work for it. The finch has been very diligent! (I have the feeling she is feeding her babies...she always flies back to the nest with a beakful.)


I have a beetle-bomb method that I've refined over the years till I've got something I enjoy. I squirt some dish detergent into a tupperware dish or sandwich-container, run a few inches cold water in it, then take it out to the roses, wisteria, fruit trees, etc., and hold it under a conglomeration of the horrible things. Then I simply shake the branch until they fall into the water, or I pick them off and drop them in. They die instantly, and the collection process actually seems kind of fun. You feel a sense of progress spiced with vengeance, yet don't get your hands dirty.
Just throw them out in the brush, on your driveway-shoulder, or flush them down your toilet.
Good luck! (I actually have reduced the yearly population this way; got very few last year. Haven't really started working at them in earnest this summer yet.

Chan S.

Yes! The drowning in dish soap method is tried and true for me too (feel even better when I pretend that the bugs are being dunked into kerosene). But I have been hoping to find a method that keeps on working when I can't be there (especially midday when the beetles are in their full-sun feeding frenzy) and when the finch doesn't show up for work. I can't tell whether it's the finch or the flour, but the hollyhocks and viburnum (which had been beset a few weeks ago) are now untouched...the fiends have now moved onto the monarda, the reblooming rugosa roses and the bean plants.


I have wondered if there were a pretty songbird that would gobble my Japanese Beetles. Actually, it doesn't have to be pretty or able to sing, any bird with an appetite for Japanese Beetles will do. Meanwhile, I hand pick and am tempted to bring the vacuum outside...

Chan S.

Boy, do I know what you mean about the vacuum. This summer seems particularly horrendous--I'm used to making the rounds and picking off/drowning dozens of them at a time...this year it's *hundreds*. Blecch. The finch has a very sweet song. The female house finch might be considered drab, but a glimpse of her with her beak stuffed with beetle is a beautiful sight indeed!

steven streight aka vaspers the grate

Are Japanese beetles those things that look like "lady bugs" but bite?

I hate them. They bite hard for no reason. In the fall here in Illinois, they swarm, the air is thick with them, it's surreal and insane looking.

I throw gourmet bread (multi-grain, honey wheat, seeded rye) crumbs all throughout the garden, and this attracts many types of birds.

I see almost no bug damage on any plants, herbs, or flowers.

When I do see bug eaten leaves, I toss more bread crumbs in that area, and a few days later, no leaf damage attributable to bugs.

To attract crows, try doing what I do, but use large chunks of bread, with peanut butter or maybe try jams or marmalade (I have only used peanut butter).

Crows seem to like big chunks of food. Popcorn I also use, but not sure if crows like it. Big black birds do though.

steven streight aka vaspers the grate

Where do you mention the titles of books you read in the garden?

I read Derrida, Christopher Locke, and John Hagel, sometimes in the garden.

Chan S.

The biting ladybugs are Asian lady beetles (they look just like ladybugs, but a little on the orange side), and we get those too, but later in the year--they tend to leave the plants alone and just bite people. The bread crumbs idea is terrific. I can't wait to try it out. There's been a noticeable difference between the areas that the finches frequent and the areas that they don't. Not so sure about encouraging more crows--we have plenty of them, but they seem to be pretty well-fed with roadkill.

Derrida in the garden! I don't get to read much (or at all) *in* the garden, but I post some about what I read in the "Reading" category of this blog.

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