Japanese Beetles

How to Identify and Get Rid of Japanese Beetles


Use these tips to get rid of Japanese beetles.



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What are those green garden beetles? Here are tips on how to identify and get rid of Japanese beetles.

What are Japanese Beetles?

Japanese beetles are small bugs 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 major insect pests in the Eastern and Midwestern United States, causing monumental damage to crops each year.

Prior to the beetle's accidental introduction into the United States earlier in this century, the Japanese beetle was found only on the islands of Japan, isolated by water and kept in check by its natural enemies. In 1912 a law was passed that made it illegal to import plants rooted in soil. Unfortunately, the failure to implement the law immediately allowed the Japanese beetle to arrive in this country.

Most entomologists agree that the beetles entered the country as grubs in soil on Japanese iris roots. In 1916 these coppery-winged pests were first spotted in a nursery near Riverton, New Jersey. By 1920 eradication programs were dropped; the beetle proved to be too prolific a breeder. Not a choosy eater, it dines on over 200 species of plants.


How to Identify Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles are ½ inch in length with metallic blue-green heads, copper backs, tan wings, and small white hairs lining each side of the abdomen. Japanese beetles usually feed in small groups. They lay eggs in the soil during June, which develop into tiny white grubs with brown heads and six legs that are up to ¾ inch in length. 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. Even if you succeed in controlling your Japanese beetle population, your neighbor’s Japanese beetles might come on over.

Japanese Beetle Damage

Japanese beetles eat a wide variety of flowers and crops (the adult beetles attack more than 300 different kinds of plants), but they are especially common on roses, beans, grapes, and raspberries. They can devour most of the foliage on favored plants like roses. Look for leaves that are “skeletonized” (only have veins remaining). This is a tell-tale sign of Japanese Beetles. Mexican Bean Beetles can also leave foliage skeletonized, though, so be sure to identify them by their appearance as well.

Grubs damage grass when overwintering in the soil, as they eat the roots of lawn grasses and garden plants.


Photo Credit: The Ohio State University. Japanese beetles cause leaves to appear skeletonized.

Control and Prevention

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Good horticultural practices, including watering and fertilizing, will reduce the damage caused by these beetles, but oftentimes you simply need to get rid of them. Here are some ideas:

  • Row Covers: Protect your plants from Japanese beetles with row covers during the 6- to 8-week feeding period.
  • Hand Pick: 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. When you pick them off, put them in a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and water, which will cause them to drown.
  • Neem oil: Neem oil and sprays containing potassium bicarbonate are somewhat effective, especially on roses. The adults ingest a chemical in the neem oil and pass it on in their eggs, and the resulting larvae die before they become adults. Neem can be harmful to fish and should be reapplied after rainstorms.
  • Use a Dropcloth: 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.
  • Insecticides: If you wish to spray or dust with insecticides, speak to your local cooperative or garden center about approved insecticides in your area.
    • Or, try this safe homemade solution: Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of vegetable oil and shake well; then add it to 1 quart of water. Add 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and shake vigorously to emulsify. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and use it at ten-day intervals on pests. Homemade sprays can run more of a risk of damaging plant leaves, so be careful.
    • Apply sprays in the morning, never in full sun or at temperatures above 90ºF. If your plants start to wilt, rinse the leaves immediately with clean water.
  • Traps: Japanese beetle traps can be helpful in controlling large numbers of beetles, but they also might attract beetles from beyond your yard. Eugenol and geraniol, aromatic chemicals extracted from plants, are attractive to adult Japanese beetles as well as to other insects. Unfortunately, the traps do not effectively suppress adults and might even result in a higher localized population. If you want to try them, be sure to place traps far away from plants so that the beetles do not land on your favored plants on their way to the traps.
  • Fruit Cocktail: You can buy Japanese beetle traps of all sorts, but most are no more effective than a can of fruit cocktail. Open the can and let it sit in the sun for a week to ferment. Then place it on top of bricks or wood blocks in a light-colored pail, and fill the pail with water to just below the top of the can. Place the pail about 25 feet from the plants you want to protect. The beetles will head for the sweet bait, fall into the water, and drown. If rain dilutes the bait, start over. 
  • Geraniums: Japanese beetles are attracted to geraniums. They eat the blossoms, promptly get dizzy, fall down, and permit you to dispose of them conveniently with a dustpan and brush. Plant geraniums close to more valuable plants which you wish to save from the ravages of Japanese beetles. 
  • Japanese beetles on Roses? Note that insecticides will not fully protect roses, which unfold too fast and are especially attractive to beetles. When beetles are most abundant on roses, nip the buds and spray the bushes to protect the leaves. When the beetles become scarce, let the bushes bloom again. Timeliness and thoroughness of application are very important. Begin treatment as soon as beetles appear, before damage is done. 

NOTE: Many dusts or sprays are highly toxic to honeybees. If application of these materials to plants is necessary during the bloom period, do not apply during hours when bees are visiting the flowers. If larger than yard and garden plantings are to be treated, you may need to contact nearby beekeepers in advance so that they can protect their colonies. 


Photo Credit: Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota. Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of Japanese beetles is to pick them off the plants before they do too much damage.

How to Prevent Japanese Beetles

Unfortunately, there is no magic potion to get rid of this pest. For general preventive maintenance, experts recommend keeping your landscape healthy. Remove diseased and poorly nourished trees as well as any prematurely ripening or diseased fruits, which can attract Japanese beetles. Try these tips:

  • Select plants that Japanese Beetles will not be attracted to. See our list of Best and Worst Plants for Japanese Beetles. Dispersing their favorite plants throughout the landscape, rather than grouping them together, also can help.
  • 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.
  • You can introduce the fungal disease milky spore into your lawn to control the Japanese beetle larvae population. The larvae ingest the spores as they feed in the soil. The spore count must be up for two to three years for this method to be effective. Fortunately, the spores remain viable in the soil for years. This is an expensive treatment, as all the soil within five-eights of a mile needs to be treated for good control.
  • You can also drench sod with parasitic nematodes to control the larvae. The nematodes must be applied when the grubs are small and if the lawn is irrigated before and after application. Preparations containing the Heterorhabditis species seem to be most effective.
  • Companion planting can be a useful strategy in preventing pests. Try planting garlic, rue, or tansy near your affected plants to deter Japanese beetles. 
  • You can also attract native species of parasitic wasps (Tiphia vernalis or T. popilliavora) and flies to your garden, as they are natural predators of the beetles. They will probably attack the larve, but they are not ery effective in reducing the overall beetle population.

Plants Affected


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Do Indian Summer raspberry plants need to be winterized? If so,

Do Indian Summer Raspberries need to be winterized? If so, how. I live in Southern NJ.


I live in Maine and found beetles eating my chamomile; plus other plants. I was told they were Japanese Beetles, but they looked liked coffee beans; they did not have the green metallic. They are in the soil...many of them. Do you have any idea what type of beetle it is?
Thanks, Annie

False Japanese Beetles

They could be sandhill chafers, which strongly resemble Japanese beetles, but without seeing them, we can’t say for sure.

Japanese beetles

A type of milkweed plants were covered/infested
with these beetles this morning at Home Depot on Atlantic Boulevard this morning in Jacksonville, Florida. It was brought to the attention of the employees.

Japanese beetles

I just went out to deadhead some geraniums - they did not fare well in recent storms - and found several Japanese Beetles nibbling away. I am surprised since geraniums are not often targeted by insects. Any comment?

Japanese Beetles and Geraniums

You’re right, Japanese beetles do tend to avoid geraniums. The only explanation would be that those are some hungry beetles! Even though they like some plants more than others, a hungry Japanese beetle will eat almost anything. Try using our other tips to get them away from your flowers, and good luck!

Japanese beatles

Thank you for the info.

Japanese beetles

Over several days, I have been hand-picking scores of Japanese beetles off my young trees and rose bushes and dropping them into a bucket of soapy dish water effectively killing them. My question is this: are these beetles coming solely from my property or are they coming from neighboring properties as well. If they are coming mostly from my property, based upon my kill rate, then my lawn must be loaded with them?? Yes or no

Japanese Beetles

Rest assured, you are not fighting the battle on your field alone. Adult Japanese beetles are highly mobile and can feed on plants several miles from where you spot them.

Japanese Beetles this year

I always have Japanese Beetles and they always show up around the 4th of July. Their favorite plants in my garden are: Rose of Sharon,Rose Mallow, Annual hibiscus - ALL and ANY hibiscus plants, roses, Petunias, and Hakuro Nishiki- Japanese willow shrub. They will completely decimate Rose Mallow. This year the hibiscus are all slower to bloom, but the beetles came out. I found them eating the leaves, but not that many this year. Yesterday, I went around to pick them off and found only dead ones all over the Geraniums! I have never seen them dead before hanging on the plants, so I have assume the Geraniums are deadly for them. Get some Geraniums and put them out. maybe this will work for others as well. I am located in N IL.

Japanese Beetles and Geraniums

Yes, you are right! Geraniums can be deadly to Japanese beetles, and planting them can be a good method of control. Check out this page for more plants that Japanese beetles don’t like.

Japanese beetles

' Hand Pick'. By holding a paper plate under the beetle. Touch the beetle with a stick or finger, they will 'freeze' and fall onto the plate. Then fold plate and squeeze over the bug. The plate will hold many beetles. Very dead

japanese beetles

Is there a problem with using the lure traps sold at most garden centers that have the sex and food lure in them? I can't find any comments about it.
Are these not safe? please help!

Sticky Traps for Insect Pests

Yes, they are a very good, nontoxic tool for pest management.

After treating my apple trees

After treating my apple trees for Japanese Beetles, do I need to pick off the eaten leaves from my trees? Or just leave them? I have searched and searched for the answer to this on many sites, please help.

Removing Damaged Leaves

Yes, it is a good idea to pick off the eaten leaves if you are able to do so. Beetle-damaged leaves emit certain odors that could attract other beetles, so it is best to remove them.

Japanese beetles

Found another favorite food of these horrific beetles got them by the thousands apparently the only way to rid yourself of them is to hand pick them . Wish there was another way to get them off my mulberry trees . Tried seven dust irritated them killed a few but not many . Tried an organic spray of dush soap vege oil and garlic but nearly killed my trees . And the beetles wouldnt stop . Now trying hand picking them off have a jar nearly full and there still coming . If anyone has any other ideas that would be great .

Hi Ken,

Hi Ken,

Hand picking is the best way to get rid of these beetles. We have added a few more ways to get rid of them at the top of this page, nematodes being one.

I use a wet/dry vac to suck

I use a wet/dry vac to suck them off my roses, doesn't bother the roses much and I can catch 20 at a time just putting it down over the rose bloom then pulling back off. After vacuuming for about 20-30 minutes I seal it up well and leave it in the sun, then I feed them to my chickens. Repeat daily for best result and happiest chickens. :)

grubworm nightmare

Buckeye, az is where we're located. I have found out i pretty much have an infestation of grubworms. off of just about 98% of what i produce homesteading is how i manage to survive i plant all food productive plants melons peas strawberries cucumbers carrots basically anything i can get to grow that we can eat with nearly no financial budget. So i hav to be very careful when & what i do to my plants doesnt help im fairly beginner gardener. I've been tilling up grounds sifting out & squishing as many as i find also been tearing out all grass to jus bare grounds within 6ft radius of veggies areas

So im gonna try ur jug trap 4 adult beetles and soapy water spray but im really nervous my plants grow 100% off earth & water mainly cuz i cant afford any plant supplements. I know theres MANY different kinds of liquid dishsoap with different smells and cleaning power agents like Dawn, ajax some say triple action cuts grease, and other things.

I dont want to pick one that i shouldnt use so Which one would u recommend to use or is there anything in there ingredients that i should look to avoid when choosing the liquid dish washing soap? And is that liquid dishwashing soap for hand washing dishes or liquid dish washing soap for dishwashers?

Use dishwashing liquid like

Use dishwashing liquid like Ivory or Dawn. Don’t use dish washing liquids containing bleach or degreaser.

Green Beetles coming out of the ground in Nov. strange or not

I have these green beetles coming out of the ground in Nov. Is this strange? or Not. I have never seen this before. Does anyone know if this is the same type of beetle or if it is just this year's weather? Thanks to any one who can answer my question.


Hi, La-shell: Without knowing where you are and more about what the beetles look like, it is hard to say what these are – but they are probably not Japanese beetles. Perhaps a tiger beetle of some sort. Thanks for asking!

I don't believe I've seen

I don't believe I've seen these, but if chickens will eat them, that may be why.

My chickens Love them! I

My chickens Love them! I knock them off my plants, into a cup. If you keep shaking the cup they can't fly out. When I dump out the cup the chickens gobble them up in an instant.

If I spray my corn in my

If I spray my corn in my garden with soapy water will it keep the japeneese beetles off them?

Spraying the corn with a soap

Spraying the corn 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.

Right now in blessed because

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

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.

Also on our basil! Thanks

Also on our basil! Thanks for any advice!

Spraying the plants with a

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.

Can I use vanilla extract.on

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

Hi, Angie: Please see the

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

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

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

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.

The beetles u are referring

The beetles u are referring to are actually a reddish brown color and they're called asiactic garden beetles. They are nocturnal. They go under the dirt and eat the plant roots during the day then come out right after dark and eat plants. I have lots of them here at my house...they've been eating all my pepper plants. I found these cocroach traps that are little cardboard boxed with glue inside...so I opened them up and laid them flat under my pepper plants and it seems to be working cuz there's more and more on the traps every morning

My knockout roses are

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Japanese beetles/ malathion

Why did the lady get prosecuted and fined? Was it the malathion or is it because you are not supposed to kill those beetles?

I have perennial hibiscus and

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

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

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

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

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

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:

I have green beetles and they

I have green beetles and they have destroyed my Cherry tree Grape Myrtle , roses all over our yard , They are sexing in large groups now like Sodom and Gomorrah so now I guess I need to soap my yard all over for several weeks now. These are Madding insects.

What Japanese beatles feed on

I have also noticed they really love my ferns!!! Also they always seem to come out around the 4th of July

Is it o.k. to use the remedy

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

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

Is there something that can

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

Hi Timothy,   Milky spore

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.

What about fruit and

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!!

This year my peony brushes

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?

I was told to get rid of

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.

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

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

you might change your mind

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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