Japanese Beetles

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville

Japanese Beetles on leaves

Japanese beetles will be showing up in gardens soon. The adults emerge from the soil and like to feed on many of our favorite ornamentals, including roses & crape myrtles.

The adult beetles send out aggregation and sexual pheromones to attract others. If you can hand-pick the first few that appear, you may be able to reduce the number of others that may show up. Hand-picking is easy for homeowners to do. Just go out early in the morning and place a container that has soapy water in it underneath the area where the beetles are. They tend to drop off the plant when disturbed, so if you start to pick them off, they will drop into the soapy water and drown.

Trapping is another option, that folks often get wrong because they place the trap near the plant or plants they want to protect. Place the traps away from the plants you want to protect so that you draw the beetles away from them. The bags that come with the traps can fill up in a day, so you will have to empty them on a regular basis for the next few weeks. Be aware that if you live in the rural parts of the county where there are pastures, the beetles will be attracted to the traps and you may have more than if you did not use the traps at all.

The damage done to foliage and flowers of ornamental plants is mostly aesthetic, though there are insecticides that can be used. If you choose to use an insecticide, be sure to read and follow the label directions and take all precautions to protect beneficial insects and pollinators.

Join the Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Union County at their Successful Gardener educational program on June 6, 2019, 7 p.m., at the Union County Agriculture Center. Aaron Moore, Area Specialized Agent, Small Farms will be discussing the topic, “Dirt vs. Soil – Soil Building”. Come learn what you can do to improve the soil in your garden.