How To Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Are you wondering how to get rid of Japanese beetles? If so, you already know how problematic these pests can be. Highly damaging and common in abundance throughout the Eastern United States, Japanese beetles are quickly becoming some of the most damaging urban pests to gardens and landscaping.

The trouble is, they lay low before reaching adulthood and can be difficult to control once an infestation is at hand.

Luckily, there are ways to identify Japanese beetles early and products you can use for how to get rid of Japanese beetles for good.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is A Japanese Beetle?

1 a Japanese beetle on a white flower
The Japanese Beetle is an invasive species of beetle that can be very damaging to crops and gardens. 

Before we look into how to get rid of Japanese beetles, we should first take a look at what they are.

Japanese beetles are a species of scarab beetle belonging to the Scarabaeidae family. They are an invasive species of beetle hailing from – you guessed it – Japan. The Japanese beetle was introduced to the United States in the 1960’s likely by way of human travel.

Unfortunately, these pests do not have a good variety of natural predators in the US, making them difficult to control and maintain. Worse still, Japanese beetles are ravens pests and they feed on a variety of plants and vegetation. In fact, experts have noted that over 300 species of plants are at high risk when it comes to adult Japanese beetles. Still, this doesn’t even begin to cover the devastation they can cause in their larval stage.

As grubs, Japanese beetles feast on plant roots and grass turf. Then they emerge to feast on common garden plants like roses, grapes, purple-leaf plum, maple trees, sassafras and more.

Typically, a Japanese beetle infestation is easy to identify. Adult Japanese beetles are most common in the summer months of early June, when they emerge from the soil and begin feasting.

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles – Identifying Japanese Beetle Adults

As adults, Japanese beetles live for around 30 to 45 days. During this time, they can completely annihilate vegetation, leaving plants and trees completely barren or skeletal.

They are not sneaky pests either. Though beautiful, the Japanese beetle is seriously devastating in large numbers, and they procreate rapidly. They are easy to identify thanks to their large, oval bodies, metallic green or rust colored wings, and the white and black patterns on their sides.

As adults, Japanese beetles grow to be between 3/8ths of an inch in length and up to 1/4th of an inch in width.

They climb along the plants of their choice and are easy to see with the naked eye. If you have adult Japanese beetles on your property, you’ll know it. Unfortunately, it can be more difficult to identify if you have Japanese beetle grubs, which can make getting rid of the pest that much more complicated.

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles – Identifying Japanese Beetle Grubs

The first sign of trouble in your yard due to Japanese beetle activity will likely be caused by grubs. Shortly after they mate, female Japanese beetles will lay between one to four eggs in loose soil. Most female Japanese beetles are capable of laying between 40 to 60 eggs in their lifetime.

After four weeks, grubs emerge from their eggs and begin feasting on the roots of plants and turf grass around them.

Also called larvae or white grubs, the Japanese beetle larvae are a creamy white color and grow to be between 1/8th of an inch to around an inch in length. They have a darker bottom end and legs towards their head.

If not identified early, the grubs will overwinter and pupate, where they will turn into adult Japanese beetles and emerge in the next season.

You can identify Japanese beetle grubs by paying attention to your turf. If your grass begins dying in patches or if the turf is easy to pull up, you’re likely dealing with grubs. You might also recognize new plants growing with deformities, or becoming unhealthy and dying without obvious cause.

This is due to the grubs devouring them from the root, which reduces nutrients and essentially kills the plant from the inside out.

There are a few ways you can work on how to get rid of Japanese beetles, and it is a two fold situation that requires you to get rid of both the grubs and the adult beetles.

But before we dive into how to get rid of Japanese beetles and their grubs, let’s first take a look at why you might have Japanese Beetles in the first place.

How Did I Get Japanese Beetles?

2 a Japanese beetle with green wings
Japanese beetles are commonly found in lush gardens. They eat a variety of vegetation and procreate very quickly. 

Unfortunately, Japanese beetles are common in many regions throughout the Eastern United States, and they could be attracted to your yard because you are growing many of the plants and vegetation they feast on.

As we previously mentioned, Japanese beetles can target over 300 different species of plants and trees. However, the most common types of plants that Japanese beetles target in the United States include:

  • Roses
  • Geraniums
  • Apple Trees
  • Crabapple Trees
  • Cherry Trees
  • Mountain Ash Trees
  • Birch Trees
  • Crape Myrtle Trees
  • Pin Oak Trees
  • American and English Elm Trees
  • Linden Trees
  • Raspberry Bushes
  • Beans
  • Roses
  • Rose of Sharon
  • And Grapes

While you can’t always control where a Japanese beetle infestation will begin, there are a few things you may be doing that could make your yard more vulnerable to these pests.

In fact, experts have found that Japanese beetles are especially attracted to plants, fruits and vegetables that are overripe. They also like gardens that are lush, or vegetation that is dying or rotting.

One of the best ways to go about how to get rid of Japanese beetles is to ensure you are taking great care of your yard and removing any overripe plants, vegetables or fruit from your garden or your property.

Of course, we will talk more about this further down. For now, let’s go over some of the best products you can use for how to get rid of Japanese beetles once you’ve got them.

How To Get Rid of Japanese Beetles Using Insecticides

3 a Japanese Beetle on a pink flower
Because Japanese Beetles can be so damaging, it’s important to get rid of them quickly when you find them. 

Japanese beetles are certainly a pain, but the good news is that there are a few different methods and products available to help you manage how to get rid of japanese beetles for good.

Insecticides are a common method used when people are at the end of their rope with japanese beetles. It has been found that insecticides containing pyrethrins are highly effective when it comes to getting rid of Japanese beetles.

However, while insecticides do work effectively, we should note that they come with their share of pros and cons.

For example, insecticides often contain harsh ingredients that may be harmful to the environment and dangerous to pets and people. When using products designed for pest control, it’s important to read the directions and use them only as specified.

Of course, you should always keep pest control products out of reach of children and pets.

We should also note that not all products will allow you to manage both adult Japanese beetles and their grubs. When looking for the best products for how to get rid of Japanese beetles, be sure you are considering the stages of Japanese beetles you are dealing with.

Try to remember that not all beetle control methods or products will work specifically for Japanese beetles. The best products that work against these pests are often going to state specifically that they target and kill these pests in different life stages.

If you’re not sure where to look to find the best insecticides for how to get rid of Japanese beetles, we have listed a few of our favorites below.

Ortho 3-in-1 Plant Spray

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Ortho 3-in-1 Spray comes in a ready to use container that includes a spray wand for easy application. Best of all, it is specifically designed to protect your yard and garden from the annoying and damaging Japanese beetle.

Not only that, but this spray can help prevent other pests like crickets, silverfish, whiteflies, mites, aphids, caterpillars and more. It even works to fight certain fungal diseases like powdery mildew, rust, brown rot and leaf spot.

This spray can also be used on houseplants, in vegetable gardens and on fruit trees. It contains pyrethrin, which is known to be effective against Japanese beetles. Just remember to use this insecticide only as directed and keep it out of reach of children and pets.

Bonide Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray Concentrate

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Since we already know pyrethrins work so well against Japanese beetles, it’s no surprise we would recommend Bonide Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray. This concentrate is designed to be used against a number of garden destroying pests, and can be sprayed directly on vegetable gardens, flowers, trees and ornamental plants.

That said, this product is a concentrate and will need to be diluted. It mixes with water and does not leave behind a residue after spraying.

Spectracide Japanese Beetle Spray

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Another insecticide we like that is specifically designed for how to get rid of Japanese beetles is made by Spectracide. This spray works on a variety of other pests as well including aphids, white flies, bagworms and spider mites.

It works immediately by killing the pests on contact.

You can learn more about how to get rid of Japanese beetles in this video: 

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However, while this is an effective product, it is restricted in certain regions. Be sure you check your area before purchasing this product to make sure you can use it in your state. It’s also important to use this product only as directed.

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles Using Natural Methods

4 several japanese beetles on a plant
Although Japanese beetles are seriously problematic, natural methods can work effectively to get rid of them. 

If you’re concerned about using insecticides or products that contain chemicals for how to get rid of Japanese beetles and their grubs, you always have the option of using natural products.

Many organic or plant-based pest control products have been found to work well when it comes to getting rid of Japanese beetles, and they are often less harmful to the environment and pose less of a risk to people and pets.

And just as experts found that pyrethrins worked well for how to get rid of Japanese beetles, they also discovered that Neem oil is equally as effective.

Of course, there are still pros and cons to using natural products for how to get rid of Japanese beetles. They can be more difficult to come by and some products may be more costly. Furthermore, you may need to reapply natural products more often to your yard and garden in order for them to work as effectively as insecticides.

Are you wondering about which types of natural products might be right for you for how to get rid of Japanese beetles? Take a look at some of our top picks below.

Trifecta Crop Control

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Crop Control by Trifecta offers a natural solution to protecting your garden and crops from Japanese beetles and their grubs. You can use it two different ways as well, which we like, because it allows you to customize the amount based on your level of infestation.

The product comes concentrated so it will need to be diluted. However, this is a natural product you can use for how to get rid of Japanese beetles and works using essential oils like clove oil, thyme oil, garlic oil and more.

You can order it in a few different sizes depending on your needs. That said, while this is a natural pesticide for how to get rid of Japanese beetles, it’s important to use it only as directed and keep it out of reach of youngsters and curious pets.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

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Another highly effective product you can use for how to get rid of Japanese beetles is known as Diatomaceous Earth. Also called DE, Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural product derived from fossilized algae. It works by penetrating the exoskeleton of hard-bodied insects like Japanese beetles, which dehydrates and kills them.

There are pros and cons to Diatomaceous Earth. One of the biggest pros with this product is that it is completely safe. It will not harm people, pets, plants or the environment. It will also not harm beneficial insects like honey bees or butterflies.

However, in order to work effectively DE must be dry. When using it in your garden, you will need to reapply it when it gets wet.

NaturesGoodGuys Beneficial Nematodes

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Recent studies have found that beneficial nematodes like those listed above have proven to be over 98% effective in how to get rid of Japanese beetle grubs below the surface. We highly recommend investing in this product or a product like it not only as a natural form of pest control when it comes to how to get rid of Japanese beetles and prevent them, but also as an effective one.

Beneficial Nematodes work by devouring pests like Japanese beetle grubs without harming beneficial insects like worms. You can order three different size varieties based on your needs and 50 million beneficial nematodes can reach up to 12,500 square feet.

Gabriel Organics Milky Spore

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Another natural yet highly effective method for how to get rid of Japanese beetle grubs and protect your turf and plants is to introduce Milky Spore into your garden. Milky Spore is a disease specifically designed to target Japanese beetle grubs. It is completely harmless to plants, animals and yards and instead targets and kills grubs before they can mature.

You can order different size varieties of the above package, but one bag alone covers up to 7,000 square feet. To use this product most successfully, it’s best when applied between Spring and Fall.

Bonide Neem Oil Insecticide Concentrate

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Last, we have a product specifically designed for organic gardeners. This Neem oil insecticide by Bonide is made with 70% Neem Oil and helps not only get rid of Japanese beetles, but also other pests like aphids, white flies, spider mites and more.

Like a variety of products in this article, Bonide Neem Oil comes concentrated and will need to be diluted. And while it is considered an organic product for organic gardening, remember that it is still an insecticide that can be harmful to children and pets. Use it only as directed and keep it out of reach of youngsters and animals at all times.

Best Home Remedies For How to Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles

5 a Japanese beetle eating a leaf
There are some home remedies and recipes you can make to get rid of Japanese beetles in a pinch. 

Japanese beetles may seem to have appeared out of nowhere, so if you’re in a pinch and need a few home remedy ideas for DIY pest control, this is the section for you.

There are several ways you can go about how to get rid of Japanese beetles without ever having to go to the store. Take a look!

Dish Soap and Water (To Get Rid Of Grubs)

To get rid of the grubs before they pupate and become adults, you can try good old fashioned dish soap and water. Simply add two tablespoons of liquid dish soap to 1 gallon of water. Shake until the mixture is sudsy and then spray the solution on your lawn. One gallon of this concoction should cover up to 1,000 square feet.

Repeat this process once a week to cause the grubs to surface, and then make sure you have invited the predators! Birds are especially keen on helping you remove Japanese Beetle grubs.

Neem Oil

As we mentioned above, Neem Oil has been found to work effectively on how to get rid of Japanese beetles. If you have Neem oil on hand, you’re in luck. If not, it’s relatively easy to find at most local hardware or garden stores.

Once you have the Neem Oil, simply combine 1 tablespoon into a gallon of water and pour the combination into a spray bottle. Then spray the surface of all affected plants. You can reapply this mixture as you need and it will not only protect against Japanese beetles, but also many other pests like aphids, mealybugs, termites, flies and more.

Hand Pick The Pests

This may be tedious but it is one of the most straightforward ways you can go about how to get rid of Japanese beetles. These pests are not the quickest or most graceful beetles, so picking them from your plants is generally simple.

Have a bucket of soapy water on hand to toss them as you go.

Use Row Covers

If you live in a region that is riddled with tons of pest activity, and especially if you’re dealing with a large infestation of Japanese beetles, we would recommend investing in some row covers. Row covers will help protect your plants as you work using other methods of removal and control, and can help prevent a massive loss in your garden.

Use A Drop Cloth 

If you don’t want to use row covers for how to get rid of Japanese beetles, you might consider a drop cloth. You can place the drop cloth over your affected plants during the times adult Japanese beetles are most active. Later, you can collect the drop cloth and shake the pests into a bucket of soapy water.

Repeat as needed to control and monitor your Japanese beetle problem.

Use Sticky Traps

You can make your own sticky traps for how to get rid of Japanese beetles using double sided tape, though many brands sell some powerful and effective sticky traps in most garden or pest control stores.

Tanglefoot Sticky Coating

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Most sticky traps you’ll find are flat paper traps with glue or adhesive. But what we like about the above Tanglefoot sticky coating is you can apply it and use it relatively anywhere. This coating helps you to monitor the types of pests you’re dealing with and can capture a variety of insects from flies to ants to beetles.

However, we should note that sticky traps should not be used as a form of control for how to get rid of Japanese beetles. Trapping them this way will not work to get rid of them completely, so this method is more for monitoring your progress.

How To Keep Japanese Beetles Away In The Future

6 a Japanese Beetle on a purple flower
Japanese Beetles can be tough to manage, so it’s best to stay vigilant and be proactive.

Japanese beetles may be beautiful, but they’re incredibly damaging to plants. Worse, they like to feed on some of our most fragile and ornate of plants, as well as vegetable gardens and fruits from fruit trees.

The best way to manage a Japanese beetle problem is to be proactive. Keep in mind that a Japanese beetle problem may seem seasonal, but it’s actually a year-round issue. When adult Japanese beetles are not active, their young are below the surface of the soil preparing for another season. Worse, they are often feasting on your turf before they emerge.

Prevention is key when it comes to these pests, and that’s why we urge you to follow the below tips and tricks from experts.

Try Companion Planting For How To Get Rid oF Japanese Beetles

While there are many types of plants that Japanese beetles are attracted to, there are also a few they despise. You can repel Japanese beetles from your garden and lawn by companion planting the below plants around your property.

  • Garlic
  • Rue
  • Onions
  • Tansy
  • Catnip
  • White Geranium
  • Nasturtium
  • Odorless Marigolds
  • Chives
  • Larkspur
  • And Leeks

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles By Inviting the Predators 

Japanese beetles don’t have a long list of natural predators, but the predators they do have can get the job done well so long as you make your property hospitable to them. Unfortunately, some of the predators of Japanese beetles are also pests themselves, so you may not want to invite these predators to your home, as this could lead to another headache.

Still, in case you want to know, the below animals have been found to be serious predators of the Japanese beetle.

Use A Grub Preventative, Spray or Insecticide During Mid August 

Begin using your pest preventatives at the right time. This usually means around mid august for those looking to get rid of grubs and prevent adult Japanese beetles.

Spread Your Plants Out

Last but not least, when you are planting, try and spread your plants out around your garden. Refrain from grouping a wide variety of plants together if you know they are especially attractive to japanese beetles and other pests.

In between these plants, try planting some of the deterrent plants we listed above. This should help protect your plants and, at the very least, buy you some time while you work on how to get rid of Japanese beetles for good.

Best of luck and thanks for reading!

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