Recently our garden has been descended upon by THOUSANDS of Japanese beetles. Ever since they started popping up in our asparagus forest and grape vines, we’ve been trying to keep up with them by scooping them into cups of soapy water. It’s been kind of fun really, like we’re on the hunt for beetles—sneaking up on them and then quickly flicking them into our cups, waiting just below the surface of leaves like hungry sharks. We’d collect hundreds in a matter of minutes. However, a couple of weeks after we started collecting them, I noticed something: the beetles we getting smarter.
This new generation of beetles seemed to like hiding closer into the stems of the asparagus and they seemed to have a faster instinct to drop off their leaf before we could get close to them. Maybe it was just coincidence, but I think we had an influence on the beetles’ evolution. I guess with insects it’s much easier to see because of their quick “turn around,” but still, biology and genetics in action!
Then again, gardeners do this all the time by saving seeds of the types of plants they liked best form the previous year. Pretty amazing system we have out here, changing nature while also trying to work with it.