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How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles can wreak havoc on your outdoor plants, garden, and lawn. In this review, we give you tips on how to identify a Japanese beetle infestation and get rid of these damaging insects.

A close-up picture of a Japanese beetle crawling on a leaf stem Adobe

Japanese beetles are outdoor pests that have voracious appetites for plant leaves and flowers. Native to Japan, these beetles are found throughout much of the United States. While harmless to humans, Japanese beetles are known for destroying home gardens and lawns.

In this review, we’ll go over how to treat a Japanese beetle infestation and preventative measures you can take to protect your yard. Additionally, we’ll discuss some top pest control companies that can help you get rid of a Japanese beetle infestation.

What Are Japanese Beetles?

Adult Japanese beetles can grow up to 0.5 inches long and live between 30 and 45 days, feeding constantly during their life cycle. They’re identified by their metallic blue heads, copper-colored backs, and tan wings. These insects feed together, attacking plants and flowers in groups.

Females breed underground, tunneling under well-groomed lawns to lay up to 60 eggs each. Typically, Japanese beetles hatch in droves by the middle of summer, producing grubs that feed on grass roots. As they mature, Japanese beetles ravage home gardens and feed on over 300 types of plants.

Japanese beetles are mobile insects, traveling from area to area to find new sources of food. Once they find a plentiful food source, Japanese beetles will breed and lay eggs in their new home.

How to Identify a Japanese Beetle Infestation

Here are a few signs that you may have a Japanese beetle infestation on your hands:

  • Large areas of your yard are severely damaged or dying off
  • Outdoor plants have a skeleton-like appearance
  • Japanese beetles can be seen flying around your yard, garden, and outdoor plants

Typically, a Japanese beetle infestation can be spotted through close examination of your outdoor plants. While Japanese beetles enjoy many sources of food, they particularly enjoy roses, beans, grapes, and raspberries.

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Here are a few ways you can remove Japanese beetle populations from your yard and garden.

Homemade soap and water solution

Grab a bucket or bowl and combine a quart of water with a teaspoon of dish soap. Mix the solution thoroughly and then pour it into a spray bottle. The solution can be applied to affected areas, causing the beetle to drop from the plant.

Neem oil

Neem oil is a naturally occuring pesticide found in neem tree seeds. This oil can be applied to your affected plants, where it’s ingested by adult beetles. The adults then pass it to their eggs, stomping out an infestation before it grows. While non-toxic to plants, it’s important to note that neem oil can impact fish and other aquatic life.

Hand pick

While it sounds tedious, removing Japanese beetles by hand is one of the quickest and simplest solutions. Japanese beetles don’t bite or sting, so you can take your time removing them by hand or with thin gloves. Once removed, the insects should be placed into a water-soap solution for disposal.

Traps

A Japanese beetle trap works by attracting the insects using pheromones or a fruit cocktail. The beetles are then killed on contact or trapped inside, preventing each beetle from mating and destroying your plants.

Insecticides

If you’re experiencing a large Japanese beetle infestation and need a heavy-duty solution, speak to your local garden center about effective pesticides. Use caution as certain pesticides can harm plants, lawns, and surrounding organisms.

Professional treatment

It’s important to contact a pest control expert if you’re experiencing a large infestation. A pest control company will evaluate your yard to develop a safe and effective treatment plan. Most professionals use a combination of insecticides and pheromone traps.

How to Prevent Japanese Beetles from Returning

Here are a few ways you can prevent Japanese beetles from overtaking your lawn:

  • Use row covers—Row covers are fine nets that surround plants and keep Japanese beetles out. These covers are best used during the peak summer season and come in various sizes to fit your plants’ dimensions.
  • Introduce beneficial nematodes—Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that are sprayed in your yard to hunt and kill Japanese beetle grubs, preventing them from reaching maturity.
  • Irrigate turf during its dormant season—If you irrigate your lawn during the beetle’s active season, between June and September, you open your lawn to the insect and their eggs. Consider irrigating your lawn in the off-season to prevent these pests.
  • Plant geraniums—Japanese beetles are attracted to geraniums, though the plant’s natural chemicals partly paralyze the insect, causing them to fall to the ground and die. Geraniums should be placed near more valuable plants for maximum protection.

If you don’t want to worry about Japanese beetle prevention, the job can be left to professionals. A pest control company can spray your yard with a preventative treatment that wards off Japanese beetles and other common yard pests.

Professional pest control providers like Terminix and Orkin will know how and where to apply treatments to kill Japanese beetles. Visit Terminix online or call 866-569-4035, or fill out this simple Orkin form or call 877-868-1416.

FAQs About How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Are Japanese beetles harmful?

Japanese beetles don’t bite or sting and are considered harmless to pets and humans. However, they do wreak havoc on your plants and flowers if left untreated, gnawing away at fleshy leaves and petals.

What scents deter Japanese beetles?

Japanese beetles use their antennae to smell, picking up scents that lead them to various food sources. However, the insect isn’t fond of particular scents, such as wintergreen, peppermint oil, neem oil, and garlic. These can be applied to your plants to help prevent an infestation.

Why do I have so many Japanese beetles in my yard?

Your yard may experience Japanese beetles for a variety of reasons, some of the most common being a lack of predators, an abundance of food sources, and the presence of high-moisture soil.

What are Japanese beetles attracted to?

There are over 300 plants that bring Japanese beetles to your yard, including species like linden, elm, grape, viburnum, and other members of the rose plant family.

Do Japanese beetles have any natural predators?

Many wild animals feed on Japanese beetles, particularly bird species like robins and cardinals. Some mammals, such as racoons, moles, and skunks, eat Japanese beetle grubs. However, these mammals may cause damage to your lawn while digging for the insect.

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