Effectiveness of companion planting, and use of nonhost masking odors were evaluated under field conditions for protecting roses against the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman. Three reputedly effective companion species, rue (Ruta graveolens L.), zonal geranium (Pelargonium × hortorum Bailey), and garlic chives (Allium scheonparum L.) were interplanted with roses in replicated garden plots. Numbers of beetles on these roses were compared with rose-only control plots on 6 d during beetle flight. The masking odor hypothesis was tested by hanging mesh bags of aromatic herbs or other sources of reputedly repellent nonhost volatiles around potted roses in the field. Treatments included crushed red pepper (Capsicum frutescens L.), fennel seeds (Foeniculm vulgare Miller), crushed spearmint (Mentha picata L.), cedar shavings (Juniperus sp.), osage orange fruits (Maclura pomifera (Raif) Schneid.), and fleshy gingko seeds (Gingko biloba L.). No treatment significantly reduced numbers of beetles relative to the controls. Interplanting with geraniums significantly increased numbers of Japanese beetles on roses. Similarly, roses surrounded by sachets with fennel seeds, cedar shavings, crushed red pepper, or osage orange fruits had significantly more beetles than the control plants on two or more sample dates. Our results suggest that the use of companion or reputedly repellent plants or plant odors probably will be ineffective for protecting roses or other highly-susceptible ornamentals from P. japonica. Use of such tactics in an effort to discourage other garden pests might even increase Japanese beetle damage in those plantings.
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Vol. 96 • No. 1