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Japanese Beetles

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Here are tips on how to identify and get rid of Japanese beetles.

What are Japanese Beetles?

Japanese beetles are small pests that carry a big threat. They do not discriminate on what types of plants to feed on, in fact, they are classified as a pest to hundreds of different species. They are one of the most major insect pests in the Eastern and Midwestern US, causing monumental damage to crops each year. Native to Japan, they were first documented in the US in 1919, and have since spread across the country.

How to Identify Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles are ½ inch in length and metallic blue-green with tan wings, with small white hairs lining each side of the abdomen. They lay eggs in the soil during June, which develop into tiny white grubs. These grubs will remain under wraps for about 10 months and overwinter and grow in the soil. They emerge from the soil as adult beetles and begin feeding in June. They usually attack plants in groups, which is why damage is so severe. Although the lifecycle of the adult Japanese beetle is barely 40 days, it can cover a lot of ground. Look for leaves that are “skeletonized” (only have veins remaining). This is a tell-tale sign of Japanese Beetles.

How to get rid of Japanese Beetles

  • Try to select plants that Japanese Beetles will not be attracted to. See our list of Best and Worst Plants for Japanese Beetles.
  • In the grub stage of late spring and fall (beetles have two life cycles per season), spray the lawn with 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap diluted in 1 gallon of water per 1,000 square feet. The grubs will surface and the birds will love you. Spray once each week until no more grubs surface.
  • Unfortunately, the most effective way of getting rid of Japanese beetles is to hand pick them. It's time consuming, but it works, especially if you are diligent.
  • You can also purchase parasitic nematodes (most garden centers have them) and drench the soil around the area where you have the problem.
  • Neem oil and sprays containing potassium bicarbonate are somewhat effective.
  • Put down a dropcloth and, in the early morning when they're most active, shake them off and dump them into a bucket of soapy water. They will not survive.

 

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Right now in blessed because

By Dj154 on July 26

Right now in blessed because the beetles are only eating the weeds in my Garden. Darnedest thing I have seen. Problem is what are they going to target next. Looks like the may have stripped a pepper plant also.

I have found a few Japanese

By Missy LaRoche on July 9

I have found a few Japanese beetles on our cucumber, pumpkin, and zucchini leaves. We have marigolds planted around the garden as we heard this may help. I believe it is, as the marigold plants in the area have been chewed up like crazy. We will plant more. I have been walking through the garden every morning and picking them off and dropping them in soapy water as suggested. My question is can we somehow apply this to the leaves or area safely to help deter them? I've read different thoughts on this. This is our first year gardening, as a one income family with three kids. We need to make this work, any advice is much appreciated.

Spraying the plants with a

By Almanac Staff on July 13

Spraying the plants with a soap spray is not going to hurt the plants and may help to keep the beetles away. Neem oil and sprays containing potassium bicarbonate are also somewhat effective. You can find these at garden centers.

Also on our basil! Thanks

By Missy LaRoche on July 9

Also on our basil! Thanks for any advice!

Can I use vanilla extract.on

By Angie Watson on July 8

Can I use vanilla extract.on corn or what can I use on corn to keep bettles away

Hi, Angie: Please see the

By Almanac Staff on July 9

Hi, Angie: Please see the tips above regarding how to deal with Japanese beetles. Unfortunately, it is very hard to keep them away from corn once they have found it, so the trick is to get them off it or lure them away from it to begin with. One thing not mentioned above is to make some fermentation traps out of plastic milk jugs (with top off) holding a cup or so each of water, sugar, and mashed fruit of some kind (e.g., banana), plus a packet of yeast. Put some of these in your corn rows and see if they can attract the beetles. Good luck!

Help these beetles are

By Cindy Locklear on July 7

Help these beetles are killing my peach tree. I've tried several things from the store (seven dust and Ortha) and they did not work. I prefer something natural. Can you help me?

There are traps that you can

By Almanac Staff on July 8

There are traps that you can use and neem oil and sprays containing potassium bicarbonate are somewhat effective. See above for other methods to get rid of the beetles.

The brown beetles that come

By PatriciaW

The brown beetles that come out at night might be June Bugs or Junebugs....I am not sure of the official name. They will decimate a basil plant in just a couple of days here in NC. They burrow in the ground below the plant during the day. I keep all of my basil plants in pots. The way I get rid of the beetles is to water the plant during the day which causes the beetles to come out of the ground...floating in the water. I grab them and smooth them between my fingers. I have not found a natural/organic spray to kill them. The good thing is they show up roughly at the beginning of June and go away roughly as the month of June ends so I don't have to fight them all summer. I'm going to try the nematodes this year. I hope they work.

My knockout roses are

By Kathryn Carpenter

My knockout roses are beginning to bud but a lot of the leaves at the top of the bushes are curling and turning brown. I can't see anything on them.I hope you can help.

Hi, Kathryn: Start by going

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Kathryn: Start by going to "Gardening" above, then "Flower Growing Guides," then "Roses," where you'll find a number of possible pests/diseases. This could be a fungus of some sort, but more likely the plants are just "angry" because of their soil conditions. Make sure they are not being burned by too much fertilizer in the soil. Knockouts are fairly robust, but they are also "Goldilocks" in some respects: They need not too much nutrients/water/sun and not too little, but just the right amount. Make sure your roses are watered only down to about the 3 inch level in the morning; lightly spray the top leaves at night. Do research on some of the other possibilities on our Roses page. You should be able to solve this by online research here and elsewhere, but if you want something permanent to have, check out our Store for a downloadable 13-page digital Roses guide for 99 cents. Good luck!

Japanese beetles are all over

By Nikki MacDonald

Japanese beetles are all over my gardens, flowering plants, grape vines, potato plants leaves, even roses. Impossible to hand pick them all, treatments wont work if surrounding neighbors don't do something about them, they are flyers. Looking for a localized treatment.

Try some Milky Spore. It's a

By Peggy Lee

Try some Milky Spore. It's a bacteria the kills the grub of the Japanese Beetle. It is not harmful to pets, kids, fish, ponds or ground water supplies.

Found a gold colored beetle

By MJN

Found a gold colored beetle with small white markings like triangles on it
burying itself in the dirt...It hid from me when I saw it !! It was not a Japanese beetle and havent found any that look like it in photo i/d's

I have a neighbor who was

By carlos batres

I have a neighbor who was prosecuted by the EPA and fined $5,000 for killing Japanese beetles with Malathion,

Bull! There is either more to

By Frankly

Bull!

There is either more to the story you are not telling us or you just pulled the whole thing out of your imagination.

I have perennial hibiscus and

By candim89

I have perennial hibiscus and Japanese beetles are eating them up! What can I use on them to get rid of the beetles.

The Japanese Beetle does love

By Almanac Staff

The Japanese Beetle does love hibiscus. You need to put on some gloves and-pick the beetles in the early morning when they are sluggish and drop into a can filled with soapy water. The presence of beetles attracts more beetles.  You could use Reemay or other spun-bonded material to protect your plant for a while. Unfortunately, many organic sprays don't work and most of the chemical applications have high toxicity to bees which pollinate your plants. If all fails, consider choosing plants they do not like such as poppies, hosta and coreopsis. See more advice on this page.

The bettles I have in my yard

By Kwami

The bettles I have in my yard and garden are not green. They are closer to shinny brown/orange and start feeding at 10:00 pm sharp. They live right in the ball of the plants down in the soil. The only solution I know is to dig them up during the day and hand-kill them. I have manually killed about 500 in one day, easily. So which other Japanese beetle is the green ones?

We can try to help. Please

By Almanac Staff

We can try to help. Please tell us where you live? Which vegetables or plants are the beetles eating? What type of holes/evidence do they leave?

I would like a list of the

By Sade

I would like a list of the plants the J Beatles feed on:

Here are the ones I have noticed in my garden:

Hibiscus blooms
Connester's leaves [evergreen]
Maple Trees
Roses [a given]
Petunias blooms
Wisteria leaves
Milk Weed "
Purple Plum Bush "
Burning Bush "

Adult Japanese beetles feed

By Almanac Staff

Adult Japanese beetles feed on nearly 300 different host plants. Yes, roses are the ultimate feast. Other favorites include: flowering cherry and crabapple, zinnias, canna, marigolds, crape myrtle, linden, Japanese maple, and birch. Here is a helpful reference page of plants that are commonly damaged and plants that are seldom damaged:
http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef451.asp

Is it o.k. to use the remedy

By Keith Etzel

Is it o.k. to use the remedy of two tablespoons of dishsoap in a gallon of water around fruit trees and blueberry bushes. I did not know if it would do anything to the trees.

Hi Keith, The dishsoap mixed

By Almanac Staff

Hi Keith,

The dishsoap mixed into a gallon of water is not going to harm your bushes or trees.

Is there something that can

By Timothy Hager

Is there something that can be added in the spring when tillilng soil that will help control the grubs that turn into the Beatle

What about fruit and

By linda m mann

What about fruit and vegetables in gardens? will this mixture help them or hurt them? I remember my dad used to use mixture to spray the lawn. I don't remember why. to kill bugs? thanks!!

Hi Timothy,   Milky spore

By Almanac Staff

Hi Timothy,

 

Milky spore powder and beneficial nematodes are a natural way of getting rid of grubs in the soil. Check your local garden center or do a quick search online to find out more about how to use them.

This year my peony brushes

By Carol Syracuse

This year my peony brushes grew usually long stems, them many of them twisted and curled around. On those stems the blossom grew but turned brown and of course never blossomed.

Do you have any ideas?

Please visit the peony page:

By Almanac Staff

Please visit the peony page: http://www.almanac.com/plant/peonies

I was told to get rid of

By Richard Williamson

I was told to get rid of Japanese Beetles to spray your plants with a mix of 2 tbls of vanilla extract and water.
They are on my rosé bushes and just showed up in the last 2 days.
Is this been tried by anyone?

We haven't heard this.

By Almanac Staff

We haven't heard this. However, you want want to cover your roses with cheesecloth or a fine netting during the peak of beetle activity.
If you find that natural solutions don't work, repeated chemical applications (malathion or sevin) are really the best control against Japanese beetles.

I saw a video where the

By Anne Peacock

I saw a video where the beetle ate a slug, so they aren't all bad.

you might change your mind

By arione

you might change your mind when you find all of your beautiful formerly healthy plants dying and stripped of leaves. Like mine. :(


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