How to get rid of Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles may be small, but they come with a large threat. They don’t discriminate: they will eat any type of plant. They are a pest to hundreds of species, and a major pest throughout the Midwestern and Eastern US.

Before the beetle was introduced to the US, it was only found in Japan. It was isolated by water; thus, its natural enemies were able to keep it in check.

How to identify Japanese Beetles 

They are around a half inch long, they have tan wings, metallic blue heads, copper backs, and on their abdomen, they have small white hairs. They generally feed in a small group. They lay their eggs during June, in the soil. They develop for 10 months and then grow in the soil.

They don’t emerge from the soil until they are adults. Despite the fact that their life cycle is just 40 days, they cover a lot of ground.

Japanese Beetle Damage

They will eat a wide variety of crops and flowers, attacking over 300 types of plants. They are particularly keen on raspberries, roses, grapes, and beans. They attack the majority of the foliage, leaving skeletonized leaves. Be sure that you identify them by their appearance, though, as Mexican Bean Beetles also leave leaves skeletonized.

How to Control Japanese Beetles

Regular watering and fertilizing reduces the damage, but you just have to get rid of them. There are a variety of ways to get rid of them once you have them.

  • Hand pick – This is the most effective way, though it is extremely time consuming. Pick them off of your plant life by hand, and then put them in a solution of water, with a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing solution.
  • Drop cloth – Head out early in the morning, as this is when they are most active, place a drop cloth down and give your plants a good shake. Dump the insects into soapy water.
  • Neem oil – These oils, or sprays, should contain potassium bicarbonate. The adults consume the chemical and it is passed on to their eggs, which results in the larvae dying before they can develop.
  • Covers – You can protect your plants by using row covers during their typical 6 to 8 week feeding period.
  • Fruit Cocktail – There are all types of traps available, however, a fruit cocktail is the most effective. Open the fruit cocktail and allow it to ferment by sitting in the sun for a week. Once it’s had time to ferment, place it on wood blocks or bricks in a lightly colored pail. The pail should be filled with water, to just below the top of the can. Find a home for the pail, around 25 feet from your plants. The beetles will make a beeline for the bait, fall in the water, and drown.
  • Geraniums – Japanese beetles love You can plant geraniums near your valuable plants and save them from the insatiable appetite of the Japanese beetle.