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If you don't like Japanese beetles eating your rose bushes, you might want to think twice about having a lawn

Japanese beetles aren't native to Colorado, but as the senior curator of entomology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science points out, neither are lawns.

DENVER — Smelling the roses this time of year might give you a nose-full of something else — Japanese beetles.

"Look how many there are," said Theresa Hendrickson, a volunteer at the Denver Botanic Garden. 

She helps get rid of the Japanese beetles eating the rose petals, but every year, they come back.

 "We collect usually hundreds of them and destroy them," she said. "Drown them in alcohol. Their last breath is in alcohol." 

Horticulture Specialist Mario Bertelmann suggested using soapy water to drown them and refraining from pesticides that could kill the good bugs like bees. 

He said the rose petals are often the most noticeable, but the beetles also eat the foliage on raspberries, grapevines, and crab apple, elm, and maple trees. 

Although they are very visible now, the beetles have been growing in turf and grass during the late winter and early spring. 

He said it might be time to start "hinting to folks" that lawns are not ideal in a Colorado climate. 

The senior curator of entomology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science agrees. 

"And then we provided them with these wonderful habitats called suburbia or golf courses or city park, all the places where there's lots of green," Dr. Frank Krell said. 

Over the last two years, he's asked people in the Denver metro area to bring him their beetles so he can map where they are found.

Credit: Dr. Frank Krell

He's not surprised they are mostly in the Denver metro area since that's where there are manicured parks, lawns, and golf courses. 

Before the beetles munch on petals, they grow up in the grass.

"We should have less lawns, we should water less," Krell said. That's better for the water supply in the future anyway" 

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