How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles Naturally

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If you’ve grown any of the different types of green beans or other plants that these beetles are attracted to, then you probably have encountered the Japanese Beetle. They can be quite a nuisance on a garden and wreak havoc on plants. Many gardeners don’t want to use harsh chemicals and pesticides so you might be wondering how to get rid of Japanese Beetles naturally.

TL;DR of How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles Naturally

  • Use companion planting with catnip, chives, marigolds, tansy, and garlic which repel Japanese Beetles.
  • Mechanical traps that are specifically made to trap Japanese Beetles.
  • Use Geraniums as a trap plant. The beetles fall after eating these and you can dispose of them once they fall.
  • Neem Oil can be used for both the adult beetles and the grubs in the soil.
  • Dawn (or other dish soap), water, and a bucket. Mix the water and soap in the bucket and go knock all the beetles into it.
  • Spray dish soap and water on your lawn and garden soil. This will bring up the grubs and the birds get a nice snack.
  • Garden Row Covers can keep the beetles off your plants. Just be aware this also keeps pollinators off your plants too.

How Japanese Beetles Became Such A Problem For Gardeners

Japanese Beetles are originally from Japan and have been brought into North America in the early 1900s due to the importation of plants from Japan. These beetles are now mainly found in the eastern parts of the US and feed on garden plants here.

In Japan, they aren’t as much of a problem because they have natural enemies there, but not so in North America. Due to the lack of natural enemies and a climate that they like on the eastern half of the US, Japanese Beetles have become a major plant pest.

Both adult Japanese Beetles and grubs are destructive to plants. The adult beetles feed on plant foliage and fruits that are growing. They are attracted to over 300 species of trees, shrubs, vines, and vegetable crops. The grubs of Japanese Beetles are in the soil, and they feed on roots of grass and plants.

How Do You Know If You Have A Japanese Beetle Problem?

Your first indication will more than likely be seeing the beetles themselves.

Japanese beetles are a little under a half an inch in length. They have a shiny, metallic looking body that is green with bronze colors on their outer wings. There is also six tufts of white hair on their sides. You will most likely see the adult Japanese beetles during the late spring and into summertime.

A Japanese Beetle in a Garden
A Japanese Beetle in a Garden

If you don’t happen to see the beetles, you will probably see the damage they leave behind on the leaves from where they feed on the foliage.

Leaf Damage On Green Bean Leaves From Japanese Beetles
Leaf Damage On Green Bean Leaves From Japanese Beetles

Grubs can cause brown patches in your lawn.

Plants And Trees That Are Most Susceptible To Japanese Beetles

  • Apple Trees
  • Blackberries
  • Beans
  • Birch Treas
  • Cherry Trees
  • Grapes
  • Hibiscus
  • Japanese Maple Trees
  • Norway Maple Treas
  • Peach Trees
  • Plum Trees
  • Raspberries
  • Roses

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles Naturally

Once Japanese Beetles have set up in a garden it can be hard to get rid of them, especially naturally.

Use Companion Planting

One of the best things to do is to avoid these beetles by using natural repellents through companion planting. There are some plants that Japanese Beetles do not like and will actually try to stay away from.

Plants That Repel Japanese Beetles

Use Geraniums As A Trap

Japanese Beetles love geraniums. You can plant these near crops that you would like to avoid having the beetles eat and instead use the geranium to lure them away from your valuable crops.

Geraniums have a chemical, that once the beetle eats the blossoms they get dizzy and fall off the plant. This would allow you to sweep up the fallen beetles and dispose of them.

Mechanical Japanese Beetle Traps

While Mechanical Japanese Beetle Traps can help get rid of Japanese Beetles in your garden, they can also attract them to the area. They have a bait in them that is used to attract the beetles to the trap. So if you use these make sure to put them in an area away from your garden so your route the attraction of the beetles away from your garden instead of into it.

Neem Oil

Neem oil comes from the neem tree. It is organic and biodegradable. It is often used by gardners as an organic way to control many different types of insects

Neem oil helps control Japanese beetles by preventing them from laying eggs. This way the life cycle is disrupted and the beetles cannot make more grubs. The oil can also inhibit the growth of grubs already in the grown and will repel them from roots.

You want to be sure not to use neem oil near bodies of water though, as it can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life.

Bucket, Soap, And Water

This is my usual choice in controling any adult Japanese Beetles that have made their way into my garden.

Just take some Dawn (or other dish soap) and mix it with some water in a bucket. Carry it with you to the area where the beetles are and start knocking them into the bucket of soapy water.

Early morning is best for this, as it is when the beetles are all settled in eating away at the foliage.

More Soap

Again with the Dawn (or dish soap of choice). Mix it with water and spray it on your lawn or on your garden soil. It will make the grubs come up and the birds will thank you for the nice snack you have provided them with. Nothing like some good ol’ Mother Nature controlling the pest poulation through lunch for birds.

Use Row Covers

Garden row covers can be used during the peak season of the Japanese Beetle to help keep them off the foliage.

The draw back to using row covers in the garden is that in addition to keeping the unwanted pests out it will also keep the beneficial pollinators out.

If you do decide to go this route you may need a DIY pollinator, like Be the Bee Pollinator, and pollinate your plants yourself.

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