Rid of japanese beetles

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How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles in House or Garden Fast

Take notice to your plant leaves

Check your plant leaves to see if there are any beetles on them. You can easily pull them off and get rid of them, but be prepared, it is a lot of work with large infestations.

Take the next steps in getting rid of the Japanese Beetles

You have a few choices. First choice which is probably the most effective but the hardest work is removing the beetles by hand yourself. You will need to go to each plant and remove them. Wear gloves and have a bucket of soapy water and throw the beetles inside the bucket. Another choice is using nematode sponge that is sold in most garden centers. You will pour this into two quarts of water and connect to a sprayer and spray throughout your yard and garden. Keep the lawn wet for the next nine days for it to most effective. Use a pyrethrin insecticide and spray that around the yard as well. However pyrethrin could kill off any necessary bees and you want to make sure not to use it in their season.

Protect your plants with other methods

Use netting or mesh cloth to protect the plants from adult beetles coming into the area. This will not protect the plants from larvae already present. Beetles don’t like Magnolias or Lilac plants and you can use those around your garden as well to prevent other adults from flying in.

Take the following steps to help get rid of the Japanese Beetles:

  • Recognize you have an infestation.
  • Check the soil for larvae.
  • Use pesticide in the soil.
  • Pick the beetles off yourself.
  • Spray nematode or pyrethrin throughout your yard.
  • Take measure to help protect your yard from additional beetles coming around.

Did you know that Japanese beetles only come out about 6-8 weeks out of the year for a feeding period?

Who would have ever thought that those little creatures could do so much damage in only a few short weeks?

But they do! I dread them every year because they can absolutely ravage a harvest.

Yet, it seems there is very little that can be done to stop these tiny pests. Well, I’m here to share with you different ways to rid your garden of Japanese beetles this year.

Hopefully you’ll find one method that works well for you.

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

1. Sevin Dust

Okay, let me say, I try to keep an organic garden. But truthfully, after losing my harvests a couple of years in a row because of Japanese Beetles, I have been known to throw in my organic towel and pull out the Sevin Dust.

So if you are battling Japanese Beetles, and you feel that they are winning, then you might want to consider pulling out this trusty insecticide and sprinkle it on your plants. Those beetles will be dead in no time.

However, remember that you will have to re-apply. Unfortunately, Japanese Beetles come out in high numbers. So just because you killed the beetles that were on your plants today, doesn’t mean there won’t be a ton back on them again tomorrow.

2. Bag a Bug

This is usually my first go-to when I begin seeing Japanese Beetles hanging around my garden. These neat little traps consist of bags and a little metal pole.

You place the bags on the pole, and there is something that comes inside the bags that draws the Japanese Beetles to the bag instead of to your plants.

So the beetles then fly into the bag and can’t get back out. You just leave the bags hanging out around your garden until they are full. This is a great way to keep insecticides off of your plants while also keeping the bugs off of your plants too.

3. Guinea Fowl

via New Zealand Birds Online

Japanese Beetles are the whole reason I invested in guinea-fowl. I shared my honest experience with raising guinea-fowl here.

Personally, I love them. I also don’t have nearly the issue with Japanese Beetles in my garden since we’ve added guineas to our homestead. They just walk around and eat as many Japanese Beetles as their little stomachs can hold, and I enjoy a great harvest at the end of the year that hasn’t been munched on by beetles.

So if you live in a location where you could add guinea-fowl to your set-up, I’ve had great success with them and hopefully you can too. The only downside to having guineas for Japanese Beetle protection is that they can’t always reach the beetles that are really high up.

For instance, I have large grape vines. The guineas protect the bottom and the middle part of those vines like crazy because they can eat the beetles on them.

But I still have to watch the top of the grape vines because the guineas can reach them without flying. So I still use alternative methods on battling Japanese Beetles in special instances such as this.

4. A Cup of Soapy Water

via A Way to Garden

With this method, you’ll just need a plastic cup that is filled half-way or a little more with water and add dish soap to the mix.

Then you’ll walk around your yard or garden and grab Japanese Beetles by the hand full. Next, you’ll toss them into this soapy water. The Japanese Beetles will not survive the cup of soapy water.

Now, this isn’t a quick hands-off fix, but it will help you to battle Japanese Beetles effectively if you stay on top of your plants.

5. Cover Your Rows

So the Japanese Beetles are wearing you down. You can’t have guineas for one reason or another, and you are really tired of having to walk around your garden with soapy water or sprinkling dust all over your plants.

What can you do?

Well, you can purchase row covers. Then you simply cover the rows of plants in your garden. This will cause the Japanese Beetles to land on top of the row covers instead of your plants.

Therefore, protecting the plants from being nibbled on and saving your harvest and flowers for the year. It is also a great option for those that want to strictly garden organically. You won’t have to introduce any pesticides to your garden with this method.

Then when the beetles have passed, you remove the row covers. But don’t feel like you’re purchasing row covers for a single use. You can use them again when the weather gets colder to protect your plants from freezing. They also help keep your plants protected from pests such as leafhoppers. If you grow carrots, then you have to be on the lookout for them.

So row covers can come in handy for many things, but especially for battling Japanese Beetles.

6. Neem Oil

Neem oil does not mix well with Japanese Beetles. You can make a neem oil spray to spritz on your plants.

Then when the Japanese Beetles eat your plants they will ingest the neem oil. Which then impacts their offspring.

So what happens is the adult Japanese Beetle ingests the neem oil spray, then they lay eggs, and the neem oil carries over to their babies. The neem oil harms them and will cause the Japanese Beetle larvae to die before they can become adults.

Which all equates to you lessening the Japanese Beetle population in your garden. In turn, it gives your plants a greater chance to thrive with less pests trying to feed off of them.

7. A.M. Coverage

Did you know that Japanese Beetles are most active in the morning? Well, they are.

If you don’t want to invest in row covers you could do the following. Drop big sheets over your garden or plants in the morning, this way the plants are protected from Japanese Beetles from being able to land on them and feed.

Then when the morning activity has settled, you just roll up the sheets with the Japanese Beetles inside.

Next, you’ll want to fill up a big bucket of water with dish soap in it. Next, you can shake out the sheets into the soapy water. The Japanese Beetles will not be able to survive the soapy water.

Then you just repeat the same thing the next morning until their 8 week feeding period has ended.

8. Fermented Fruit Cocktail

I’ll be honest with you, I try really hard not to eat canned anything that came from a store. The reason is because of all the preservatives they use to give those foods a longer shelf-life.

So occasionally I’ll have people give me store bought canned food. I don’t ever turn it away. Instead, I only take certain items that I know I can use in a different way.

Well, fruit cocktail happens to be one of those items. You just open the can and leave it sitting out in the sun for about a week. This gives the fruit enough time to ferment.

Then you create a stable base made of bricks, cinder blocks, or wood blocks. Next, you’ll place a small pail on the sturdy base and then place the fermented fruit cocktail (still in its can) inside the pail.

Finally, you’ll place water in the pail until you have almost reached the brim of the can of fruit cocktail. Place this set-up about 10 feet or so from the plants that the Japanese Beetles are destroying. What this will do is send off a sweet smell that will cause the Japanese Beetles to bypass your plants and go for the fermented fruit cocktail.

However, because of the water in the pail, the Japanese Beetles will never be able to get back out of the bucket and instead will be drowned.

9. Geraniums

via Tried and True

My final suggestion is for you to plant geraniums in your garden. Japanese Beetles absolutely love geraniums. They think they are the best tasting treat.

However, they have a really nasty side effect to Japanese Beetles. When they eat them, they cause the beetles to become dizzy and disoriented. This in turn, causes them to fall to the ground.

Well, that happens to be a great thing for you because you can then sweep them up off of the ground and dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water.

Again, they will not be able to survive the soapy water so this puts an end to your Japanese Beetle problem. You’ll just need to go around regularly and collect them because they won’t stay dizzy and disoriented forever.

As I mentioned earlier, I actually use a variety of these methods to best stop my issue with Japanese Beetles (because I have to battle them every year.) For myself, I use my guineas to take care of the majority of the problem.

However, for whatever I have leftover that I have to deal with, I use the cup of soapy water to drop all of the Japanese Beetles down inside, and we try to cover our plants whenever possible. I have to be careful how much I leave them covered though because of our climate.

See, we have really warm summers, and our plants will cook if we aren’t careful. Which means I can’t leave them covered for too long of a period, but I do what I can while I can.

So hopefully you can find a concoction of these suggestions that will help you to rid your garden of Japanese Beetles this year as well.

Well, now you have my suggestions on winning ‘The Battle of the Beetles.’ I know how frustrating it can be to work so hard on a garden and have these little pests come in and ruin your hard work in a matter of weeks. It can actually feel quite demoralizing.

So I want to hear from you. Do you have to battle Japanese Beetles? If not, can you tell us why? If so, what do you do to battle Japanese Beetles each year? Have you found anything that works particularly well for you?

We’d love to hear from you all so please leave us your thoughts and comments in the space provided below.

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4 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles in Your Home

Use these natural remedies to get rid of Japanese Beetles wandering around your home. These pests can be a huge nuisance if they aren’t dealt with quickly.

1. Catch Them with a Dust Buster
Catch the Japanese beetles by aiming a battery-powered dust buster within their vicinity. Empty the bag of Japanese beetles in a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

2. Spray Indoor Plants with Neem Oil
Are the Japanese beetles gathering around the indoor plants? Make a Neem oil mixture by mixing a gallon of water with an ounce of Neem oil. Spray the Neem oil solution on the plant foliage to repel the beetles.

3. Pick Them Off with Your Hands
If you are only dealing with a few Japanese beetles then the easiest solution is to simply pick them off with your hands then place them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

4. Repel the Bugs with Cedar Oil
Cedar oil is one of many essential oils that could help repel pests like Japanese beetles. Dilute the cedar oil and spray the resulting solution around common entry points like windows and doors. This could help repel the invasive insects.

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

The story goes like this: in the early 1900s Japanese beetles were accidentally introduced into the American ecosystem via shipments from Japan. Mostly isolated to the Eastern and Midwest regions of the U.S., these green and copper-colored beetles have very few natural predators in our country, which has led them to become one of the most widely spread and damaging garden pests.

Most active during the warmest summer months (mid June to late August for adults, fall and late spring for larvae), these beetles and their larval grub form can wreak havoc on your lawn. The adult beetles “skeletonize” nearly all forms of plant life, while their younger grub counterparts consume grass and other roots from below the soil. Because Japanese beetles eat in groups and feed from both above and below the soil, they can devastate entire lawns & gardens in no time. If Japanese beetles are destroying your lawn, or you’re just looking for ways to keep that from happening in the first place, here are 10 All Natural Ways to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles.

Get Your Hands Dirty

The tried and true method of handpicking Japanese beetles from your lawn & garden is still the most effective approach to controlling these pests. It can take some time, but the effect it can have on the health of your plants is well worth the effort. For best results, do this in early morning, when Japanese beetles are most active. Using gloves, pluck the beetles from grass and other plant life being careful not to squeeze or crush them (doing so could attract more beetles). Dispose of them by dropping them in a bucket of soapy water (2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap per 1 gallon of water)—this is one of the most humane ways to eliminate Japanese beetles.

Feed the Birds

Keeping guinea fowl around your lawn & garden is a proven way to limit not only Japanese beetle populations, but that of ticks and other pests as well. However, not everyone wants to keep these loud birds as pets. In that case, finding ways to attract ducks and other birds to your yard will do the trick. Spraying your entire lawn with a soapy mixture of 2 tablespoons dish soap to 1 gallon of water will help force Japanese beetle larvae to the surface, which in turn will attract hungry birds (this should be done in fall and late spring, when Japanese beetles are in the larval stage of their life cycle). Continue this process weekly until no further larvae emerge from the soil.

Take Care of Your Plants

Japanese beetles are most attracted to rotting and overripe plants, so keeping a healthy lawn & garden is key. Promptly remove diseased or otherwise dying plants, trees, fruits and vegetables before they attract additional beetles to your yard. Harvesting plants before they become appetizing to beetles is important also.

Use Row Covers

Row covers allow air, sun, water and other essential elements to reach your plants while keeping Japanese beetles out. Remember: To remain effective, the edges of the cover must be flush with the ground, or otherwise firmly sealed. If Japanese beetle grubs have already infested your soil, this method is not for you, as it will only serve trap the beetles inside the cover with your plants.

Beneficial Nematodes

One of the greener options for Japanese beetle control involves introducing parasitic roundworms into the soil. Also known as beneficial nematodes, these organisms can devastate soil-dwelling pests like Japanese beetle larvae. Once they’ve located and entered a host, these nearly microscopic worms release a bacteria that’s deadly to the young beetles. After killing their host they move on to another beetle, reproducing in the process. For best results, introduce nematodes into your soil in late August or early September to attack the next cycle of beetles for the following year (while this is the optimal approach, nematodes can be added to the soil at any time, so long as the soil is sufficiently watered). Note: the nematode species Heterorhabditis is said to be most effective against Japanese beetles; the nematode pest control method targets larvae, not adult beetles. Beneficial nematodes can typically be found at your local home & garden store.

Choose Your Plants Wisely

While Japanese beetles enjoy eating a wide array of plant life, certain types are particularly attractive to these devastating pests. Inundating your garden with Japanese Beetles’ favorite food sources is just asking for trouble. Limit installing such plants as much as is reasonably possible. For a list of Japanese beetles favorite meals, .

Drop Cloth

Drop cloths can be highly effective at cutting down Japanese beetle populations. At night, cover your plants with a sufficiently large drop cloth. In the morning when beetles are most active, remove the cloth and dispose of the attached beetles using the aforementioned bucket of soapy water.

Fruit Cocktail Trap

Most Japanese beetle traps are ineffective, usually only serving to attract additional beetles to your lawn & garden. However, a can of fruit cocktail can quickly remove active beetles from your yard. First, ferment the cocktail by leaving it in the sun for a few days—this will make it more attractive to beetles. Next, place the can on top of a brick or bricks stacked inside a pail filled with water (it’s advisable to keep this trap far removed from the plants you’re trying to protect). The cocktail will attract the beetles, the water will drown them. It’s that simple.

Soap + Water Spray

Mix 4 tablespoons of dish soap with water inside a spray bottle. This simple solution makes for a great, all natural Japanese Beetle pesticide. Spray on any beetles you see on or around your lawn & garden.

Home Remedies To Kill Japanese Beetles

Considered as one of the most devastating insect pests, especially in eastern parts of the United States, Japanese beetles love to feed on garden plants. Let’s look at how get rid of Japanese beetles.

When is Japanese Beetle Season?

Usually feeding in groups, Japanese beetles are most active during warm, sunny days. In fact, once the adults emerge from the ground in spring, they immediately begin feasting on whatever plants are available. This activity can take place for a month or two throughout summer.

Damage can be recognized as a lacy or skeletonized appearance of the leaves. In addition, their young can be just as devastating. Grub worms commonly feed on the roots of grasses and seedlings.

It can be very difficult to rid the garden of Japanese beetles, especially once their numbers have grown. The best defense when combating these pests is through prevention and early detection. You can improve your chances of avoiding Japanese beetles by learning about their favorite weed plants and then removing them from your property. Examples include:

  • Bracken
  • Elder
  • Rose
  • Mallow
  • Morning glory
  • Grapevines
  • Smartweed

Keeping plants healthy is another way to prevent Japanese beetle attacks, as they are attracted to the scent of ripening or diseased fruits. If you do happen to have an outbreak, simply pick them off plants or gently shake them off in the early morning. Place them into a bucket of soapy water.

Natural Home Remedies to Kill Japanese Beetles

While there is really no surefire Japanese beetle home remedy, there are some tactics you can try in addition to preventative measures. For instance, a natural Japanese beetle repellent can include the addition of plants Japanese beetles do not like such as:

  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Tansy
  • Catnip

Covering your precious plants with netting during peak season also helps. The use of homemade insecticidal soap or castor oil soap is another Japanese beetle home remedy worth trying.

If all else fails, look towards eradicating their young larva or grubs, which eventually become Japanese beetles. Treat the soil in your lawn and garden with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) or milky spore. Both are natural bacteria that target grubs and eradicate future problems with Japanese beetle pests.

Stop Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are small insects that make a huge impact on garden health. These bugs attack most types of plants and eat away at their foliage and flowers, leaving them with holes. Check out this guide of Japanese beetle facts and solutions to keep them out of your yard.

Kill Japanese Beetles Quickly

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The beetles release chemicals called pheromones into the air. These pheromones attract other beetles. So if you see a few of the bugs, they’ll probably attract more. Quick action works as a natural Japanese beetle deterrent. Get rid of Japanese beetles early, before they can invite more of their friends to feed on your plants.

Timing

Japanese beetles tend to be most active when temperatures are over 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the air is relatively still. Be especially watchful for new beetles coming into your yard during these conditions.

Get Rid of Grubs

While it’s the adult Japanese beetles that cause the most damage, their larval form—grubs—can also cause lawn problems. If your lawn has a Japanese beetle grub infestation, treating for the grubs will kill most of them before they can emerge as adult beetles. A number of grub-killing products are quite effective. There are also organic options for grub control including beneficial nematodes.

Hand-Picking Japanese Beetles

If Japanese beetle infestations are light, the safest and most inexpensive route to killing the beetles is to pick them off the plants by hand. Then, drop them into a bucket of soapy water rather than using a Japanese beetle spray. By using soapy water, you are sure that each beetle has been dealt with.

Pesticides for Japanese Beetles

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A number of pesticides are available for Japanese beetle treatment. Some ingredients to look for on pesticide packaging include carbaryl, acephate, and permethrin. Organic, neem-based pesticides can also provide good control, as can insecticidal soaps. Editor’s Note: Insecticidal soaps will kill the beetles, but won’t provide any ongoing protection to your plants.

Avoid Japanese Beetle Traps

University research indicates that using Japanese beetle traps can actually make problems worse. The traps are intended to trap and kill the beetles in your yard. However, they use pheromones to attract the beetles to the traps, and these pheromones bring more beetles into your yard than the traps can catch. Use other Japanese beetle killer products like insecticides before turning to traps.

Pick the Right Plants

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While Japanese beetles eat hundreds of different plants, they do tend to avoid:

  • Arborvitae
  • Boxwood
  • Dogwood
  • Firs
  • Hemlock
  • Holly
  • Junipers
  • Lilac
  • Magnolia
  • Oaks
  • Pines
  • Redbud
  • Red maple
  • Rhododendron

Japanese beetles can destroy the bulk of your garden crop in just days. They not only have a devastating impact on growing plants, but are extremely difficult to kill.

Short of standing in your garden around the clock plucking the Japanese beetles off the pants and squishing them beneath your feet, there is no surefire way to destroy them all in one fell swoop.

If you are diligent in your efforts, you can at least curtail the damage they inflict on the crops. It does not take harsh chemical pesticides to get rid of Japanese beetles, odds are you have all the supplies necessary sitting on a shelf right now.

This photo of part of our garden was taken on a Sunday morning. The growing plants look picture perfect and showed signs a bountiful harvest would indeed be coming:

Broccoli Plant After Japanese Beetles:

These photos were taken on the following Wednesday afternoon – after the Japanese beetles moved in.

Image from the same row of broccoli plants that were flourishing in the first image.

This close up image of broccoli leaves above illustrate what a plant will look like after Japanese beetles begin feeding on it. This is a far too familiar sign to homesteaders and farmers that they now have a monumental problem on their hands.

Here are the plants on video:

We thought we had dodged a bullet with Japanese beetles this growing season due to the preventative measures taken in the spring right after putting our plants in the ground.

Killing the larvae before they can mature into adults is a huge part of the battle when dealing with this beetle population.

Japanese Beetles Facts

Before you can effectively deal with Japanese beetles, it is essential to learn more about how they develop and what plants they both loathe and love.

The shiny green and copper colored beetles are tiny, but the threat to your growing food supply is enormous. It would be far easier to create a list of plants Japanese beetles won’t eat, than ones it will.

They are listed as a threat to literally hundreds of different crops, fruit bushes, and flowers. Only a few different varieties of trees and plants will help repel them. While the beetles can be found most anywhere in the United States, their largest colonies exist in both the Midwestern and Eastern regions of the United States.

(above) Cabbage plant that has been visited by Japanese beetles

It is soundly believed that Japanese beetles were introduced to America quite by accident during the early 1900s. Prior to that date the crop-devouring beetles roamed only among the Japanese islands.

Because the beetles were isolated to Japan by water and their natural enemies in the natural world, their populations didn’t not rage nearly out of control.

Sometime around 1912 a new law was passed in America that forbid the importation of plants that came rooted in soil. But, the government did a poor job of regulating the law and the Japanese beetles are believed to have hitched a ride to the United States on potted iris plants when they were mere grubs.

Although efforts to kill off all of the Japanese beetles in America were in full swing by 1916, the government abandoned its effort to eradicate the pests by 1920. The little Japanese beetle had proven itself just too durable a foe to completely vanquish.

How To Identify Japanese Beetles

  • The beetles are approximately a half an inch long. They are about half an inch wide, too. These pests have copper-brown wings covers along with white spots of hair beneath those covers.
  • Their heads are a shade of green or blue-green and cast a metallic hue.
  • Mature beetles lay their eggs directly into the dirt in early June. During this time, they will also start eating. As a result, they will do the most damage beginning in late June for about four to six weeks.
  • Young Japanese beetles are known as grubs. Their bodies are white, their heads are brown, and they have six legs. The young beetles are approximately three-quarters of an inch long.
  • The beetle grubs remain buried in the soil for about 10 months – over the winter, until they mature into adults and burrow up out of the soil to begin feeding.
  • Japanese beetles almost always feed in small groups, meaning a host of them will attack a single plant together – the primary reason why an infestation becomes severe in an especially short amount of time.
  • The average life cycle of a Japanese beetle is roughly 40 days.
  • One of the few natural predators the beetles have in the United States is the yellow jacket.
  • The beetles typically start eating at the top of a plant and work their way down to the roots.
  • Japanese beetles are usually most actively eating on hot sunny days and seem to prefer eating crops that grow in full sun.
  • There are over 300 different types of plants that these pests will eat. They can totally destroy flowers, leaves, and wounded fruit, feeding in masses as they start at the top of the plant and work their way down.
  • Japanese beetle larvae will leave brown, deadened spots on your lawn.

21 Plants Vulnerable To Japanese Beetles

Geraniums are a favorite snack for the beetles. Cultivate a border around your growing areas using geraniums to entice the destructive invades to munch on the plants instead of your thriving food crops.

Interestingly, although Japanese beetles are attracted to geraniums, geraniums emit a substance that paralyzes these pests temporarily – it can make them more vulnerable to predators.

Japanese beetles live underground and feed on the roots of plants as larvae. You might notice these pests feeding on your lawn when there are spots of dead or dying grass. However, as adults, they feed on just about everything.

Broccoli Green Beans
Cabbage Grapes
Raspberries Roses
Birch Trees Soybeans
Rhubarb Asparagus
Apples Apricots
Cherries Peaches
Plums Hibiscus
Roses Japanese maple
Norway maple Pin Oak
Crape myrtle

Top 7 Plants That Repel Japanese Beetles

Cultivate these plants around the crops most vulnerable to Japanese beetles to help deter a potential infestation:

1. Garlic
2. Onions
3. Leeks
4. Chives
5. Chamomile
6. Marigolds
7. Catnip

In addition, Japanese beetles tend to stay away from plants like ash, burning bush, dogwood, forsythia, holly, lilac, northern red oak, pine, red ample, spruce, yew, redbud, magnolia, hemlock, and clematis.

While planting these plants won’t necessarily repel Japanese beetles, planting options that are unattractive to the pests can help cut down on your losses.

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles

Get the Birds Involved

Got chickens/ Great! Chickens will eat Japanese beetles to an extent, but want to know a type of poultry that will work even better? Guinea fowl.
Guineas can be quite loud, but they are effective at getting rid of tons of different garden pests, including ticks, Asian lady beetles, and, of course, Japanese beetles.

You can also attract ducks and other birds to your yard to munch on your Japanese beetle problem, even if you don’t want to maintain a backyard flock. All you need to do is spray your lawn with a soapy mixture of two tablespoons of dish soap to one gallon of water. This cocktail will force the beetles to the surface, which will then attract hungry birds.

The best time to do this is in the late spring and fall, when Japanese beetles are in the larval stage. You can dot his once a week and stop when the larvae stop emerging from the soil.

Use a Vacuum

While many people use the hand picking technique to rid their gardens of Japanese beetles, you can also use a vacuum to get the job done. We will talk more about hand plucking in a moment, but know that using a vacuum can be a quicker way of getting rid of the pests. Dump the bugs in soapy water to kill them.

Take Good Care of Your Plants

If you love to garden, you probably already take pretty good care of your plants. However, know that Japanese beetles are most attracted to overripe or rotting plants.

Maintaining a healthy, clean garden is the easiest way to keep Japanese beetles at bay. Remove ay plants that are diseased or dying – leave them there, and they’ll attract beetles to your yard. You should harvest plants before they become attractive to the Japanese beetles, too.

Use Row Covers

Row covers are incredibly beneficial to the home gardener. They let air, water, and sun reach your plants – yet they keep annoying pests like Japanese beetles far, far away.

To use row covers effectively, you need to make sure the edges of the cover are flush with the ground and firmly sealed. Unfortunate, if Japanese beetle grubs have already taken over, this method isn’t going to be very effective, as it will simply trap the grubs within the soil.

Hand Plucking

This is the most time consuming way to get rid of Japanese beetles, but it does work well. Invite the family and friends over to your homestead for a Japanese beetle plucking work detail – cookout.

Simply walk around your garden plot or growing area and find plants that have been eaten by the beetles. As noted above, they are most active during the heat of the day.

Start at one plant at the beginning of the row and look it all over, plucking all the beetles you can find from the plant. Step on the beetles and stick the dead ones in a sack to hang a stake near the row.

Puncture a few holes in the sack to the smell of decomposing beetles can be sniffed by other members of their colony.

Typically, the beetles will not enter an area that smells like their dead unless they are starving – an old farmer shared this tidbit of information with me and it seems to work at least somewhat.

Introduce Beneficial Nematodes

One of the best ways to reduce pests in a natural way is to introduce parasitic roundworms. Nematodes can wipe out a whole population of soil-dwelling pests like Japanese beetles.

These worms will locate and enter a host, with the microscopic worms releasing bacteria that will kill of the young beetles almost instantaneously.

And they don’t stop there. Once they’ve left a host, they will move on to another beetle and then reproduce. They are killing machines!

To experience the best results, you should introduce nematodes in late August or early September. This will rid your soil of beetles for the following year, stopping the cycle in the process. That being said, you can technically introduce nematodes at any time throughout the year – just make sure your soil is sufficiently watered.

If you choose nematodes to take care of your Japanese beetle problem, always go for the species Heterorhabditis. This is the most effective Japanese beetle treatment, as it targets larvae and not adults. You can find most nematodes at your local home and garden store.

DIY Japanese Beetle Spray Recipe #1

  1. Mix together 1 cup of vegetable oil (carrier oil like olive oil works well too) with 1 cup of dishwashing soap (Blue Dawn seems to work best) 1 cup of rubbing alcohol, and 2 quarts of water.
  2. Pour the mixture into a jug with a firm-fitting lid or an agricultural sprayer.
  3. Shake vigorously
  4. Spray or pour onto the plant once every 5 to 7 days. Apply the mixture during the morning hours when dew is still on the plants and not during the heat of the day to prevent scorching. If the crops show signs of wilting after the sun has been out for a few hours, rinse the plant with lukewarm water and tone down the rubbing alcohol in the next batch.

DIY Japanese Beetle Spray Recipe #2

This recipe works well because garlic is very unattractive to Japanese beetles. This recipe can also help repel other pests, too!

  1. Mix together up to 1 tablespoon of mineral oil and 1 garlic bulb or up to 1 tablespoon of garlic powder. If using fresh garlic, allow the mixture to soak overnight and strain the garlic before moving on to step 2.
  2. Fill a jug with 2 cups of water and add in 1 tablespoon of Blue Dawn – or your favorite liquid dish soap.
  3. Combine both mixture into an agricultural sprayer or jug with a firm-fitting lid. Holes can be poked into the lid of the jug so it can become a delivery method for the “spray” so you can sprinkle it over the plants.
  4. Spray or shake the natural insecticide directly onto the entire plant during the morning hours.
  5. This spray should work well to deter not only Japanese beetles but also cabbage loopers, June bugs, aphids, earwigs, whiteflies, squash bugs, and leafhoppers.
  6. Apply once or twice a week – or as necessary.

Recipe #3: Flour And Salt Powder (careful, check out the photos and comments below)

Mix together 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of salt (standard table salt works fine) and sprinkle it liberally onto plants. As with the sprays above, do the powder sprinkling during the morning hours.

The Japanese beetles, cabbage loopers, and other insects will consumer the flour and salt mixture and then their stomachs will bloat until they burst, killing the garden pests.

These cabbage photos above show what happens when you use the flour and salt mixture when it is too hot and humid. Even though I followed the strong recommendation to apply the salt and flour herbicide during the early morning hours when there is still dew on them to allow it to soak in and avoid scorching, the plants still got scorched.

I also applied the mixture before it was 85 degrees, as recommended. Because we are in the midst of a heat wave, it hits 5 degrees early, usually before 9 a.m.

The beetles were killing the plants, so the risk of scorching them was one I was willing to take. I reduce the amount of salt to help prevent a negative outcome, but as you can clearly see, scorching occurred just the same.

The plants do not appear to have died, only time will tell if they will produce anything or not. But, the liquid sprays I used in the videos as well as the flour and salt mixture, have kept the Japanese beetles and other bugs away. I have only seen beetles on two tomato plants I did not put any treatment on – using them as a kind of control group.

Use a Drop Cloth

Drop cloths can help cut down on Japanese beetles, too. All you need to do is cover your plants at night with a large drop cloth. In the morning – which is when Japanese beetles are the most active – you can remove the cloth and kill the attached beetles with a bucket of soapy water.

Use Cedar Oil

Cedar oil is said to be very unattractive to Japanese beetles. You can purchase or make your own. All you need to do is place a few foot-long red cedar planks in a two-gallon bucket.

Pour hot water on the plants and let them sit for a full day. Make sure the planks are covered and then pour the liquid into a spray bottle before applying the liquid to your plants.

Grub Killing

During the spring, spray the garden area with a mixture of 1 gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap – Blue Dawn highly recommended. If the ground is not too hard or dry, the grubs buried slightly below the surface will rise above ground and be eaten by birds. This recipe should yield enough spray to cover 2,000 square feet.

If you have had significant Japanese beetle issues in the past, spray this mixture once a week in the spring and again in the late fall before winter sets in to kill as many grubs as possible.

Companion Planting

I already told you about the plants that Japanese beetles don’t like above. You can use targeted companion planting to keep these pests away, too. Some are even poisonous to Japanese beetles! You will want to plant items like rudbeckia, geraniums, yellow carpet roses, and other deterrents for best results.

Milky Spores

Purchase milky spores (a fungal disease sponge-like garden product) to kill the larvae of Japanese beetles. The young beetles consume the spores as they grow under the ground.

This method of killing a mature colony before it starts works well, but it generally takes up to three years before the milky spore content in the ground will be strong enough to kill the larvae that ingest it.

Once the milky spore count peaks, it should remain in the soil at a potent enough rate to kill beetle larvae for two years. The other drawback to this Japanese beetle eradication project involves cost. Milky spores are far more expensive than the other natural insecticide ingredients and this list and it takes a whole bunch of them to treat a typical garden area.

Use Parasitic Wasps

Parasitic wasps can be helpful in getting rid of Japanese beetles. Just keep in mind that these only attack the larvae and are not necessarily predators of adult beetles.

Plant Deep-Rooted Grasses

Naturally, one of the easiest ways to prevent and repel Japanese beetles is to kill them before they become full-grown, adult beetles. Plant deep-rooted grasses like tall fescue.

These will require watering only once every seven to ten days – therefore, you will have a lessened likelihood of the grubs being drawn to your yard. Tall fescue also tends to be more resistant to grub damage.

Neem Oil

Neem oil doesn’t kill Japanese beetles instantaneously, but instead suffocates them over time. It is a pest deterrent that works well on other pests, too, like grasshoppers, tomato hornworms, and leafhoppers. Simply spray your plants often for best results. It won’t harm your plants or any beneficial insects.

Japanese Beetle Trap

  1. Open up a can of fruit cocktail, canned fruit, or pick/purchase fresh fruit and place it outdoors in a sunny spot until it ferments – becomes somewhat rancid. If you are using canned fruit cocktail or fruit, this process may take up to 7 days. You can also add in jelly, jam, vanilla extract, or brown sugar to help make the bait for the trap both thicker and more sweet.
  2. Pour a few tablespoons of Blue Dawn (or other liquid dish soap) into a bucket.
  3. Place a board or something equally heavy onto the top of the bucket.
  4. Mark the space where the board lays over the center of the bucket.
  5. Slather the fruit and sweet mixture on only the bottom side of the board so the Japanese beetles (and other pests, especially yellow jackets) have to maneuver upside down and remain in that position while they gorge on the bait.
  6. The beetles will become heavy, tired, and have difficulty with both their sense of balance and direction as they attempt to leave the rancid fruit buffet.
  7. The loss of balance and sense of direction should cause the Japanese beetles to fall to their deaths in the water waiting below.
  8. The water level in the bucket should be no more than 1 inch below the bait.
  9. Place the trap about 10 feet from crops where Japanese beetles are prone to visiting or have already set up housekeeping. You want to draw them away from your crops rows and not towards them. Usually, younger the beetle, the more effective this trap is in killing them.

The dish soap is added to the water to make it more permeable and prevent the Japanese beetles and other crawling or flying insects, to save themselves from drowning.

This trap will also attract yellow jackets, who will likely kill at least some of the beetles while visiting the trap.

Diatomaceous Earth

This natural and inexpensive Japanese beetle and garden pest control opton is comprised of fossilized seashells.The miniscule yet highly sharp fragments in the diatomaceous earth will puncture the bodies of beetles (and most all other garden pests) both internally and externally as well as provoke deadly dehydration to occur.

Simply sprinkle the diatomaceous earth (DE) around (not on) the the plant and between rows so any beetles or pest that crawl or walk past it, have their bodies coated in the powder, even if they opt out of directly consuming it.

Japanese Beetle and Garden Pest Drench

  1. Mix together equal parts garlic (fresh or powder) horseradish, green onions, crushed peppercorns, and hot peppers.
  2. Stir enough enough water to make a spray or broth-like consistency.
  3. Pour in 1 tablespoon of Blue Dawn – or other liquid dish soap.
  4. Spray onto plants during the early morning hours and between plants, for best results.
  5. Repeat as needed, typically two applications a week are necessary to thwart Japanese beetles and other determined garden pests, like the cabbage looper.

Caution!

Most sprays or dusting powders designed to kill Japanese beetles and other common garden pests are also extremely toxic to the incredibly beneficial honeybee.

To reduce honeybee carnage as much as possible, apply the sprays and dusting powders only when essential and not during the spring blooming period when visits by honeybees are most crucial.

updated by Rebekah White 08/22/2019

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