Ladies and gentlemen, the beetles!
It's not 1964,
but beach lovers up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline
are being introduced to a new group of beetles.
the adult western corn rootworm beetle are ending up floating
among the whitecaps of the Big Lake.
of the Beatles on American soil in 1964 was met with fun
and frenzy. The rootworm beetle poses no threat and is
at worst only a nuisance, but the reception for the insects
has been decidedly less enthusiastic -- especially since
many of them are ending up dead in clumps on local beaches.
"It's almost everywhere ... up and down the shoreline,"
said Chuck Pistis, director of the Ottawa County Michigan
State University Extension Office.
debut of the small flying insects is the result of a combination
of weather fronts and seasonal habits.
to Tom Ellis, specialist at MSU's Department of Entomology,
during the first few weeks of August western corn rootworm
beetles ascend from farm fields in great numbers. The
beetles come from corn-growing states like Iowa, Wisconsin
then disperse to lay eggs primarily in corn and soybean
the insects encounter sudden downdrafts in West Michigan.
happens over Lake Michigan, the beetles go for a swim,"
said Thomas A. Dudek, horticulture agent with the local
humans aren't raving about the beetles' arrival, the fish
in Lake Michigan are acting like screaming teen-agers.
said the mass of bugs that splash down during storms provide
a bounty to Great Lakes fish like steelhead, who feast
on the dunked bugs.
key in on what they call the scum lines on the lake, usually
accumulations of debris marking a change in water temperature,
incident, those same sites will be loaded with bugs,"
he said of the downdrafts.
sent ker-plooshing into Lake Michigan accumulate in fairly
thick masses, and the fish race to the surface to begin
consumption, he said.
If some of
the beetles make landfall before they encountered the
downdraft they may show up in local gardens -- a "skittish
invasion" of sorts. They will feed on the leaves of many
vegetables commonly grown in Michigan. The surviving beetles
can be easily controlled by shaking them off into a pail
of soapy water or sprayed with an appropriate insecticide.
2001, the beetles invaded the Chicago area and caused
quite a stir, according to Dudek.
A severe downdraft
on Aug. 15 grounded the rootworm beetles. The event was
of sufficient magnitude to make the TV news that night
in the Windy City, said Dudek.
even reported to be crawling around on the 50th floor
of the Prudential Building," he said.