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Japanese beetles, scientifically known as Popillia japonica, are highly invasive pests that can cause significant damage to gardens and crops. They pose a significant problem because they feed on many plant species’ leaves, flowers, and fruit and harm lawns by feeding on grass roots.

While often mistaken for a ladybug, Japanese beetles have distinctive physical characteristics that make them easy to recognize. They are small, typically about 1/2 inch (12 mm) in length, with a shiny, metallic green oval body and coppery-brown wing covers. Their most prominent feature is small white tufts of hair along the sides and back of the abdomen.

Most damage caused by a Japanese beetle is easy to spot. There are distinct signs such as skeletonized leaves, flowers with chewed, ragged petals, and fruits with holes or scarring. In lawns, brown or dead patches indicate Japanese beetles active from larvae feeding on grass roots.

If Japanese beetles are causing problems in your garden, consider trying one of these natural methods to eliminate them.


japenese beetles
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If small numbers of Japanese beetles are present, the quickest and most effective way to remove them is by picking each one off by hand and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. The beetles appear from late spring onwards, so make a regular plant inspection part of your daily routine to stop this garden menace in its tracks.

Neem Oil

neem oil
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Neem oil kills adult Japanese beetles, their larvae, and eggs. Use it as a targeted spray in problem areas where Japanese beetles have been seed-feeding. Avoid widespread spraying of neem oil, as it can also harm beneficial insects.

Garlic Spray

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The smell of garlic is a great way to deter beetles and many other troublesome garden pests. Peel a few garlic cloves, blend them in a food processor with a cup of water, and strain into a spray bottle. Reapply frequently for maximum effect.

Grow Resistant Plant Varieties

American Holly (Ilex opaca) at Brinka Cross Gardens.
Image Credit: Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

To reduce the amount of Japanese beetle control, you need to grow plants such as boxwood or holly that are less attractive to Japanese beetles.

Companion Planting

chives purple
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Some plant species, such as garlic, chives, catnip, rue, larkspur, and tansy, can repel Japanese beetles. To reduce the risk of damage, grow these plants in and around more susceptible plants.

Trap Crops

Beautiful close-up of a borage flower .Colourful blue Borage flowers.
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Certain plants, including borage, white geraniums, evening primroses, and zinnias, are highly attractive to Japanese beetles and will draw them in large numbers. Grow a patch of sacrificial plants to lure Japanese beetles away from other crops; the beetles can then be collected and killed.

Attract Natural Predators

Yellow jacket or yellowjacket
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Plant nectar-rich flowers to encourage beneficial insects like tachinid flies and parasitic wasps, which prey on Japanese beetles. Alyssum, cilantro, dill, daisies, and asters are preferred food sources for these natural pest control insects.

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal Soap
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Insecticidal soap only works on contact and has no residual activity, so it must be sprayed directly onto every Japanese beetle you spot. When used carefully, this method is non-toxic to other beneficial insects.

Attract Birds

robin bird
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Install birdhouses to attract birds such as robins and cardinals that feed on Japanese beetles. Robins prefer a secluded nesting area such as a dense hedge where they can raise their young without being disturbed.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Prune Infested Branches

herb and vegetable garden
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Damaged leaves give off chemical signals that attract even more Japanese beetles to your garden. Regularly inspect plants and crops and carefully prune away any damaged leaves or branches.

Row Covers

mesh row cover
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When the larvae turn into adult Japanese beetles, they quickly fly to their preferred feeding sites. To minimize damage, protect vegetable crops with horticultural fleece or fine mesh row covers.

Kaolin Clay

Close up view of person using homemade insecticidal insect spray in home garden to protect roses from insects.
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Kaolin clay forms a thin barrier that prevents Japanese beetles from feeding on leaves. This is available in a spray that is simple to apply and gives instant results when used in areas prone to Japanese beetle infestations.

Essential Oils

essential oil sprays

Essential oils like peppermint, wintergreen, or lavender are known to repel Japanese beetles. Mix a few drops of oil with water in a spray bottle and a small amount of dish soap to help it disperse, and spray affected plants daily.

Watering Control

watering garden
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Japanese beetle grubs thrive in moist soil. Reducing moisture levels can help limit their development. To reduce Japanese beetle populations, switch to drought-tolerant plants and grasses and keep watering to a minimum.

How to Water Your Garden The Right Way

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deer in beautiful garden
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Though deer are nice to watch, they can cause problems in the garden, particularly when they start munching on tomatoes.  To help you protect your tomato plants this season, here are 15 strategies to keep deer at bay.

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squirrel with tomato
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To help you safeguard your garden, we’ve handpicked 17 plants Squirrels tend to avoid due to their taste, smell, or texture.

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  1. I very much appreciate the article on how to combat Japanese beetles. It is the most informative one I have read.

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