Home » gardening » Help! How do I get rid of Japanese Beetles?

Help! How do I get rid of Japanese Beetles?

I think Japanese beetles are the bane of many gardeners existence. They can quickly defoliate bushes and plants and not only make them ugly, but weaken them enough to kill them.

How to get rid of Japanese beetles

Many people know these bugs in their larval stage as grubs in their lawn.While the best control early on is by treating your lawn (organically of course) with a grub control such as BT (a beneficial nemaode).However, that’s not always possible. Especially if none of your neighbors are doing it. They might be gone in your yard, but there is noting that stops them from making a visit from next door and snacking on your plants. They really love anything in the Rose family, which is more plants than you think!

Raspberry leaves with Japanese beetle damage

This lacy looking raspberry leave is how Japanese beetles skeletonize your foliage and ruin your plants.

Japanese beetle on Evening Primrose

One thing I can tel you to NOT do is use a commercial trap. It actually attracts beetles from the area instead of just taking care of the ones you have!

 The best control is actually hand-picking and a trap crop.

Evening primrose wild flower

One thing I found quite by accident is one thing Japanese Beetles love more than my Raspberries or Roses are Evening Primrose. Evening Primrose is a super common wild flower and it grows in a large part of the US. It has very pretty yellow flowers. Butterflies,bees and birds also love it, and it readily self sows, so just pull the seedlings in the spring, and leave a few plants.

Here is grows between 3 and 5 feet tall and I normally let it come up about 10 feet from the plants in question. While the beetles don’t completely leave my other plants alone, it minimizes the damage they cause. In the Fall, let them go to seed, and either pull the tall plants after the first frost, or leave them for the birds until Spring.

Evening primrsoe bud

And the Japanese Beetles LOVE it which makes for very easy picking, and they mostly leave my other plants alone.

Japanese beetles

Hand-picking is the next best form of control, even if you don’t have a trap crop.

Since Japanese beetles also emerge with the urge to mate, you will often times get a two for one, or in the case of a beetle orgy, 5 for one. They aren’t very picky when it comes to that aspect of their life.

Control Japanese beetles with hand picking and soapy water

They don’t bite, so normally a quick shake of the leaf into a mixture of water and dish soap takes care of the problem. About two tablespoons of dish soap to a cup of water is plenty to send them to a watery grave.

Japanese beetles on an Evening Primrose trap crop

 I have found that by using these tips, it is very easy to pop in my garden every few days and do a quick sweep with my soapy jar. This has helped keep my plants fairly clear of Japanese Beetles and lessened my frustration quite a bit!!!

Jen signature

Want to learn more about gardening? And some of my favorite plants to grow?Click here!






  1. In my garden, they always target the corkscrew hazel tree. I start looking for them Jul.1–and sure enough,there they were! Since the tree is only about 4 1/2 feet tall, I use the same trapping method you do, only I use a 2 gallon pail containing a couple inches of soapy water. Holding it under the branches/leaf clusters where they are congregating, I give sharpish taps and ‘plop,plop,plop’ …in they fall! I have discovered the best time to do that is from about 5pm til dusk when they seem sluggish. In the heat of the day they are more apt to fly away. They also enjoy canna lily leaves. At my neighbour’s they go for the sundrops (same plant as in your garden).

    1. It’s funny what they like to eat, I haven’t seen too many on my hazel tree at all. They do live the Sundrops (evening Primrose) a ton though!

Comments are closed.