Adult activity of native green June beetles, Cotinis nitida L., and invasive Japanese beetles, Popillia japonica Newman, peaked in late July in Kentucky coincident with later stages of veraison in early- and midseason ripening grape (Vitis spp.) cultivars. Most C. nitida feeding aggregations sampled on clusters of early-ripening grapes in the research vineyard also contained Japanese beetles. Assays showed C. nitida generally are unable to bite into intact ripe grape berries, whereas Japanese beetles readily do so. The beetles’ disparate biting ability is likely because of differences in their mandibles, which are sharply pointed and opposable in P. japonica compared with C. nitida mandibles that are bluntly spatulate, do not meet at their tips, and seemingly are only suited for feeding on fruit pulp or other soft food. Japanese beetles were shown to facilitate C. nitida feeding by biting through the skin and providing access to the soft berry pulp. Juice from early- and midseason ripening grape cultivars with relatively high sugar content elicited the greatest feeding by P. japonica. A scenario is suggested wherein Japanese beetles open wound sites and contaminate fruits with yeasts that induce fermentation volatiles that attract C. nitida. Japanese beetles had difficulty biting berries of Sunbelt, a late-ripening cultivar. Phenological resistance, i.e., planting cultivars that ripen after peak flight, could be an effective management strategy. Establishment of P. japonica in grape-growing regions of the southeastern United States will likely elevate the pest status of C. nitida in vineyards.
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