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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Comments

Japanese beetles are all over

By Nikki MacDonald on August 4

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.

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 on August 6

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?

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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