Mendham Garden Center
Route 24, Mendham, NJ

Battling Japanese Beetles: How to Get Rid of These Garden Pests

pest control, gardeners supply

The average lifespan of a Japanese beetle is only about four to six weeks, but as any gardener supply store could tell you, that’s enough time for them to make meal out of your garden.

But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless against these pests. Peak Japanese beetle season is underway, so let’s take a look at some pest control methods you can use to keep them away from your plants.

How do I know I even have Japanese beetles in my yard?

With their admittedly pretty colors, these beetles are hard to miss. But even if you don’t see them, you’ll be able to spot the damage they leave behind in the form of skeletonized leaves. Once you’ve determined they’re in your yard, use these methods to get rid of them.


This is the most effective way of getting rid of Japanese beetles, but unfortunately, it’s also the most time-consuming: Just pluck them off your plants and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.

Tempting them with geraniums

“Wait,” you’re saying. “So Japanese beetles eat geraniums. How does this help me?”

Well, geraniums are kind of like catnip for Japanese beetles. They chew on them, and it makes them a bit loopy. They’ll fall down, and you’ll be able to sweep them up and dispose of them.


Talk to your local garden supply store or cooperative extension before using pesticides. You want to make sure that what you use is safe for you, your plants and any beneficial insects. Apply insecticide sprays when the sun is low and never when temperatures are higher than 90 degrees.

You can also make your own homemade concoction by mixing a cup of vegetable oil with a teaspoon of dish detergent, shaking it and adding that mixture to a quart of water. Add a cup of rubbing alcohol and shake. Put this mixture into a spray bottle and use it on pests in 10-day intervals. Just use caution when using homemade sprays, as they can damage leaves.

Use caution when employing Japanese beetle traps

Japanese beetle traps work by emitting a scent that draws the insects into a bag. Once they get in, they can’t get out, and you can just dispose of the bag.

The problem is that the pheromones inside the trap tend to draw in more beetles than the traps can hold. You might save your neighbors’ gardens from Japanese beetles at the expense of your own. Use other anti-Japanese beetle products before resorting to traps.

The fruit cocktail method

Another cheap-yet-effective method of trapping Japanese beetles: open a can of fruit cocktail.

Let the can bake in the sun for a week so it ferments, then put it in a bucket. Add water to the bucket so that the water level comes to just beneath the top of the can.

Keep the bucket about 25 feet from the plants you’re trying to protect. The insects will be drawn to the sweet smell of the fruit, fall in the water and drown.

Are there any plants safe from Japanese beetles?

Japanese beetles aren’t that picky. In fact, they’re known to feast on 300 different kinds of plants. But there are some things they tend to shy away from, including:

  • Boxwood
  • Dogwood
  • Hemlock
  • Lilac
  • Rhododendron
  • Magnolia
  • Pines and fir trees
  • Oaks
  • Arborvitae

Your local gardeners supply store may be able to offer you more tips on other trees and plants that have pest control properties.

Early prevention

Using a grubicide won’t keep this summer’s Japanese beetles out of your garden, but it will prevent new generations from emerging.

There’s also a product called Milky Spore, which is a natural bacterium that wipes out grubs. When those grubs decompose, the breakdown releases billions of new spores into the soil, which eventually kills other grubs.

There’s also Merit, which is a systemic pesticide, which means plants will absorb it and protect themselves against Japanese beetles and other pests.

Sevin is a white crystalline pesticide whose active ingredient, carbaryl, is used to control beetles. It’s one of the most commonly used types of pesticide in the country.

And Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew is a versatile insect spray that uses a soil-dwelling bacterium called spinosad to kill beetles, bagworms, caterpillars and other pests.

You’ll find all these products, along with Japanese beetle traps, at Mendham Garden Center. Pay us a visit today, and you’ll find we have the pest control products and the expertise to keep your yard beetle-free this summer and in summers still to come.