From the “Disgusting Yet Fascinating” Drawer

Apparently, Japanese beetles love the smell of citronella candles. They love it so much that they’ll come and land on the candles just to be close to the smell. Whereupon the candle, made all squooshy by the 90+ degree temperatures we’ve been having, sucks them into the wax. Where they die, all citronella-fied. And then I come over and take a picture to show Teh Intarweebs. ‘Tis the circle of life, it is.

53 Comments on “From the “Disgusting Yet Fascinating” Drawer”

  1. I can’t think of the number of Japanese beetle carcasses I have impaled, mummified, burned, preserved and otherwise molested throughout the years.

    So I think this is kinda cool in a sick way. I’ll go back to my hot, single window attic and write SF poetry now.

  2. This is great. I’m going to fill my regrettably bug-chewed garden with citronella candles now. Couldn’t hurt.

  3. I read that as “from the disgusting but fascinating dinner”. Then I thought that was some sort of bean soup. Then I saw something about Japanese beetles and candles. And then it clicked as to what I was looking at and what the title of the post was. Wow, my brain is not working.

  4. This actually gives me a great idea for saving my rose bushes. They ate all the flowers. Citronella just might be the answer.


  5. Reminds me of the candles in Iain Banks’s The Wasp Factory. Perhaps you’ve stowed away the skull of an old dog in your shed as well?

  6. That gets a giant gold star for ‘disgusting yet fascinating’! A big enough gold star that I saved the photo to my computer for later reference… and I’m not sure what that says about me… :)

  7. It was the “circle of life” showing you how to deal with the beetle-alien invaders in your next novel.

  8. @ Changeterhune

    This candle was scent to you by this wicked post to inspire you to wax eloquent?


  9. Oh wait for the real fun when the candle burns down to the very bottom and they start catching fire and possibly popping.

    We had a big candle like that for camping that we used for a few years and it was full of moths. When it got to the bottom the whole bottom of the pail lit on fire. Pretty exciting and very frightening since we’re in a campground with a lot of trees and pine needles.

  10. Yay. Die beetles, DIE!

    Cider vinegar works the same way for picnic bugs. (Also known as $#!* beetles ’round these parts) I tried this out just yesterday and have a persimon colored Fiestaware bowl by the herb garden filled with dead and dying little nuisances. I didn’t think to take a photo to share. That’s why you make the big bucks! :)

    *If you do not have a cider vinegar, a blend of balsamic vinegar and plain white will work just fine.

  11. PS If you have any suggestions for the annihilation of Emerald Ash borers, I’d love to know it before we lose our beautiful backyard tree.

  12. From here that looks like a double handful of ripe olives floating in a pot of navy beans. I agree with Bill G – it needs bacon. Maybe some horseradish too.

  13. Oh, that brings back memories, it does. Fond ones. When I was barely a teenager, my maternal grandfather would give me a small coffee can full of kerosene and send me into his garden to knock the Japanese beetles into it. I loved helping him out and did this duty often every summer for a few years.
    Those were innocent days…the mid-late 1970s.

  14. Oh man, we used to have these plastic bags you’d stick in the ground that had some kind of Japanese beetle pheromone in them and the beetles would come calling and then fall into the bag. Unable to escape, they would starve and/or be crushed to death by the bugs that followed.

    The point is though that hundreds of japanese beetles rotting in a plastic bag in the summer heat is about the worst smell you can imagine.

  15. I know some people who used to trap these little bastards by the hundreds and thousands and feed them to their chickens.

    Not with citronella all over them, of course. You don’t even want to get citronella on your hands if you can avoid it.

  16. What a waste of good japanese beetles. My chickens won’t eat them all covered in wax! I toss the ones I collect to my chickens, and they snatch them up like a candy sugar rush.

  17. I have memories of being a kid and seeing my dad pick Japanese beetles off the roses at home in Connecticut. That would have been much easier!

    (Also note to self: eating a bowl of cereal + Scalzi’s blog = don’t mix.)

  18. How this all started:

    Aloysius Beetle: “Hey guys! Let’s impress the girl beetles and show who can stay in the longest without getting stuck!”

    How this all ended:

    (All the guy beetles:) “Yo, Aloysius! Great idea! But wait a minute — why aren’t you in here with us? ‘AY! SCAM-O-RAMA! You lousy son of a–” (The sounds of beetle death by citronellification.)

    Aloysius Beetle: (sings) “Oh, Gwendolyn Beetle …”

  19. OH THANK GOD I’m not the only person who stared at that picture for a few minutes, thinking it was supposed to be some kind of food.

    *scrolls back up to the picture*

    …It still looks like food. The candle tin looks just like a bowl from above, and the mind does the rest.


  20. I can’t believe it took 14 comments for someone to suggest bacon. And for your sake, I hope people don’t start sending you gross dead bug stuff the way they send you bacon stuff.

  21. I thought it was bean soup at first glance, too. Oh, the tricks photography plays.

  22. As some who values rose bushes, I thank you for striking this blow for beautiful flowers everywhere.

    Now if we could only figure out what attracts and kills stink bugs. (Though they haven’t been prevalent this summer. I suspect they don’t like the heat.)

  23. I thought that was a bowl of blue or blackberries in melted ice cream…




  24. You should bury that in the backyard so scientists a million years from now can clone dinosaurs.

    Or whatever it is that Japanese beetles eat.

  25. Agggg…I knew that there was something that I forgot to mention at the Miami Cty Master Gardeners meeting this afternoon..effects of citronilla on Japanese Beetles!!!

  26. Does the smell of citronella overpower the stench of rotting Japanese beatles? Cause that’s about the worst smell in the universe.

  27. @ #38 –

    I live about fifteen miles from the main Yankee Candle plant/store/Oompa German Christmas Village Tourist Attraction and Bus Tour place (aka “The Scenter of New England”). Do NOT give them ideas.

    Seriously. These are the people who offer delights like “Fresh Cut Grass” candles in addition to the usual fruits, flowers, musks, and “seasonal scents” like Christmas Wreath and Holiday Incense. Their chief sales floor will send your allergies into overdrive in about thirty seconds, guaranteed.

  28. There’s a store in Whistler that sells Canadian-themed souvenirs, including maple-scented candles. Just the thing if you want the house to smell like pancakes.

  29. You know another way to cause their demise is to hold a bucket of soapy water under the plant they’re currently resting on/feasting on/copulating on thereby making millions more of the little beasties, then give the plant a shake. Sure, a few get smart and fly off, but most drop like stones into your soapy bucket, and never come back up for air (or, well, they probably try to but the soap on their wings pins them under the waterline. I can hear their little beetle screams right now…)

    Then the best revenge is to use the soapy beetle carcass water to FERTILIZE THE PLANTS! I suppose I’m spreading more beetle spores by doing that, sometimes, but I just can’t escape the delicious feeling of karma.

  30. When I looked at the picture, I had a flashback to Seoul and silkworm soup, which was… not bad, except for the silkworms.

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