How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles in Your Home and Garden

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 6, 2024

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If you spot a little creature with a metallic green body and copper-colored wings in your garden, you have likely met the Popillia japonica, commonly known as the Japanese beetle. Japanese beetles might seem enchanting at first glance, but their insatiable appetite poses a serious threat to gardens and landscaping. Below, we’ll explore how to get rid of Japanese beetles and how to keep them away.

 


 

Causes of Japanese Beetle Infestations

Japanese beetles were first discovered stateside in New Jersey in 1916 but have since spread throughout the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern regions. Natural predators keep Japanese beetle populations in check in their native Japan, but the pests have proven to be a hassle in the United States.

Life Cycle of Japanese Beetles

The life cycle of Japanese beetles includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The process begins when females emit pheromones to attract a mate, and once the beetles breed, they tunnel underground to lay eggs in the soil. Roughly two weeks later, the eggs hatch into Japanese beetle larvae, which are C-shaped white grubs that feast on grass roots, creating visible brown patches on your lawn.

Adult Japanese beetles emerge from the ground in late June or early July and feed throughout the summer. Japanese beetle grubs remain in the soil throughout the winter, resuming their activity and growth as temperatures warm up in the spring.

Preferred Food Sources

Japanese beetles are highly mobile and can fly several miles in search of food. Once a beetle finds a plant that is palatable, it will produce a floral scent that attracts others. As a result, infestations spread quickly, making Japanese beetles a challenging pest to eradicate.

Adult Japanese beetles eat more than 300 different species of plants and are especially attracted to fragrant flowers. Preferred plants include the following:

Japanese beetles also damage birch, crape myrtle, elm, horse chestnut, linden, maple, mountain ash, sassafras, and sycamore trees.

 


 

Risks of Japanese Beetle Infestations

Americans spend more than $460 million a year to control and recover from damage caused by Japanese beetles, according to the USDA. About a third of that is spent on replacing turf damaged by Japanese beetle grubs.

Mature trees and shrubs can survive Japanese beetle infestations without suffering long-term damage, but young or unhealthy plants may be stunted or killed, and beetles will ruin the blossoms of even the healthiest flowering plants. Japanese beetles frequently cause full or partial defoliation, leaving behind lacy skeletonized leaves.

Homeowners will likely notice damage inflicted by grubs, which chew through grass roots and leave behind dead patches of grass that can be rolled back like a carpet.

 


 

Methods of Japanese Beetle Control

Controlling Japanese beetles can be a delicate process because homeowners must avoid harming pollinators and plants during the eradication process. Below are a few safe and effective options for addressing a Japanese beetle infestation.

Home Remedies

If you prefer a natural DIY approach to protecting your garden, consider the following:

Commercial and Professional Remedies

If DIY control methods prove insufficient, commercial products and professional pest control companies may be able to help. Here are a few options:

 


 

How to Prevent Future Japanese Beetle Infestations

Start hand-picking beetles the moment you notice them or apply an appropriate repellent to affected areas. Make sure your lawn is well-watered and well-drained, as healthy soil will help counteract the stress caused by grubs. Do the same for trees to guard against damage from adult beetles. Apply physical barriers during peak beetle season after plants have begun sprouting fruit.

You can also lure Japanese beetles away from your garden by planting trap crops, such as geraniums and borage, the former of which are attractive and toxic to Japanese beetles. Finally, try companion planting, or incorporating plants Japanese beetles dislike, such as catnip and garlic, into your garden.

 


 

In Conclusion

Between home remedies and professional pest control services, gardeners have plenty of options to combat Japanese beetle infestations. By addressing an infestation early and taking preventive steps, you can minimize the damage caused by these voracious insects.

 


 

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles FAQ

Does Dawn dish soap repel Japanese beetles?

If you mix a few tablespoons of Dawn dish soap with water, you can spray the solution on individual beetles to kill them. You can also apply the solution directly to plants to help repel beetles.

What is the best way to kill Japanese beetles?

The best way to kill Japanese beetles is to manually remove them from plants and drown them in a bucket of soapy water. Neem oil and certain chemical insecticides can also be effective but may also harm beneficial insects.

What do Japanese beetles hate?

Like many insects, Japanese beetles seem to hate the scent of plants in the allium and mint families, including garlic, onions, catnip, and peppermint.

How We Chose the Top Pest Control Companies

Our pest control research process starts with analyzing customer reviews on third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google Reviews. We then do a deep dive into each company’s website, service plans, and available cost information. We also secret shop the companies we review, reach out to representatives, and request quotes.

From there, we compile the information we’ve gathered and compare each company using our in-depth pest control methodology and review criteria. This process uses a series of factors that are important to our readers, and we score each company depending on how well they perform in each factor. For instance, companies that offer more guarantees for their service earned more points than others, and pest control plans with a larger range of covered pests earned more points than ones with fewer.

After analyzing dozens of residential and commercial pest control businesses through this process, we were able to determine the best pest control companies on the market.