Monday, 1 September 2014

An Unpleasant Discovery... 

I was disheartened to find a "scourge" species of beetle, the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica), on my rounds of Roaches Pond in Spryfield on the last day of August. These fairly large scarab beetles are instantly recognizable because no other beetle in North America has those five tufts of white hairs on the sides of the abdomen. The root-boring larvae and the leaf-eating adult beetles are known to eat more than 300 species of plants, many of them crops or garden ornamentals, and I became very familiar with the devastation that these beetles can inflict after visiting a colleague in Kentucky and witnessing the hordes of beetles on his large population of Maypops, Passiflora incarnata. A scourge indeed.

Worried that I was about to report this nasty intruder in Nova Scotia for the first time, I contacted Andrew Hebda, Curator of Zoology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, and he set my mind at un-ease: turns out this beetle has been known in Nova Scotia since the mid-1930s (and has been pronounced extirpated numerous times since then!). It wouldn't be so bad if this Japanese Beetle only ate Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia (Polygonum) japonica) but, sadly, this is not the case. Is it just me, or does the beetle in the above photo seem to be saying, "I'm baa-ack!"?

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