Although Japanese beetles have a wide range of favorite foods, some plants are more appealing to them than others.
The larvae seem to be especially fond of grass roots and other garden plant roots. The adults like fruit, shade trees, roses, shrubs, asparagus, corn, soybeans, and a number of other vegetables, especially plant parts exposed to the sun. They generally do not like cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, onions, lettuce, parsley, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and turnips. They also tend to avoid geraniums, as geraniums can be deadly to Japanese beetles.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has identified the following best and worst landscape plants to have in your yard when hungry Japanese beetles come calling. Use these suggestions as guidelines if you’re adding new plants.
Best Plants to Keep Away Japanese Beetles
Least favored by adult Japanese beetles and less susceptible to destruction.
- Burning bush
- Northern red oak
- Red maple
Worst Plants for Japanese Beetle Damage
Most favored by adult Japanese beetles and more susceptible to destruction.
- American linden
- Apricot, cherry, peach, and plum
- Crab apple
- Crape myrtle
- Japanese maple
- Norway maple
- Pin oak