What is eating my Japanese maple?

Asked August 18, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

A young Japanese maple in the front yard was apparently eaten by something (the new growth is pretty much gone). How can I prevent this, and what did it?

Halifax County North Carolina japanese maples lrk

1 Response

This looks like it is likely damage from June beetles. June beetles are like Japanese beetles in a lot of ways -- they live underground most of the year as grubs, then come out of the ground as adults in summer. The difference is that Japanese beetles are usually more of a problem as adults than as grubs, whereas June beetles are the opposite. It's rare that they cause much damage as adults. Your situation may be the exception to the rule.

It will be sort of hard to protect the Japanese maple. They are sensitive to most pesticides, so anything you put out to prevent or kill the bugs is just as likely to burn or damage the leaves. If you seem to have a recurring problem with June beetles, it might be worth putting down an insecticide labeled for grub control on the lawn in the spring to kill the grubs before they come out as adults. Of course, the adults can fly in from anywhere, but targeting the grubs should reduce the numbers you have in the yard. Also, the larger the maple gets, the better equipped it will be to handle some minor leaf feeding in the future.