Japanese Beetles and their larval grub form are arguably the most destructive garden pests you can face, capable of destroying your entire lawn or garden in only a matter of days. Most prevalent in the warmer months, these damaging scarab beetles lay their eggs in the soil during mid summer. These soon hatch into grubs which start eating your lawn from just under the soil surface until they emerge in spring as adult Japanese beetles. A full blown Japanese beetle problem is costly and a bit intimidating to tackle, but getting rid of and preventing Japanese beetles isn’t. Here’s how to control Japanese beetles with just 3 simple steps.
The absolute most important step in controlling Japanese beetles is prevention. Not only is it the easiest, least expensive approach, it’s also by far the most impactful. Whether you constantly struggle with Japanese beetles or have never had them before, the following tips will help you avoid costly Japanese beetle issues moving forward:
- Overly wet lawns lead to larger, more damaging grub and Japanese beetle populations. To avoid this, water your lawn as little as possible through July, August, and the latter parts of June. Doing this will reduce the number of grubs and adult beetles you’ll experience the following year.
- During Japanese beetle season—late spring through summer—avoid cutting your grass too short, aiming for about 3 inches instead. Females prefer to lay their eggs in shorter grass and keeping your turf longer can help limit Japanese beetle populations.
- If you garden, make sure to harvest your fruits & veggies early and often. Additionally, if you tend to struggle with Japanese beetles every year, consider switching out your plants, avoiding Japanese beetles’ favorite foods, such as apples, peaches, plums, beans, raspberries, hibiscus, and roses.
- Japanese beetles are most attracted to rotting and overripe plants, so keeping a healthy lawn and garden is key. Promptly remove diseased or otherwise dying plants, grasses, trees, fruits and vegetables before they attract additional beetles to your yard.
- Avoid using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers in your lawn, doing so could decrease the health of your lawn, leading to larger Japanese beetle populations.
- Attracting predators like birds and reptiles to your lawn is an effective and natural way to prevent serious Japanese beetle problems. Invite birds by offering baths and feeders, and attract reptiles by offering shallow dishes of water and cool, dark places for them to hide (an overturned planter works great for this!)
- Targeting Japanese beetles in their larval grub stage is an efficient way to devastate their populations before they mature into adults. Microscopic parasitic worms known as beneficial nematodes, the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, and milky spore are all effective options.
- Employing row covers or drop cloths over vulnerable or appetizing plants will help both prevent Japanese beetle problems and their infamous damage.
Lawn and gardens filled with other damaging bugs are much more likely to suffer from Japanese beetles, too. In short, pest damage leads to a less healthy lawn, and sicklier lawns are more attractive to hungry bugs like Japanese beetles.
By treating your lawn with a family-safe pesticide, you can help break up this cycle, protecting your lawn from potentially fatal Japanese beetle harm. Not only will this kill unwanted bugs in your lawn—like mosquitoes, ants, fleas, ticks, and chiggers—it will help keep Japanese beetle populations under control.
Start by thoroughly spraying your entire front, back, and side yards with PCO Choice, including shrubbery and bases of trees. For best results, repeat this process in two weeks and then move on to monthly applications afterward. If you’re not currently struggling with Japanese beetles and just need prevention, you can start with monthly applications right from the start.
If you live in a warmer region like the South, applications should be done every month unless the temperature drops below freezing for more than a few weeks. If you live in a state prone to cold spells, start spraying monthly in late February and then taper off in November as winter really starts to set in.
Because PCO Choice is plant-based and family-safe, no downtime is necessary. You, your family, and pets can enjoy your lawn right after application!
For additional protection, we strongly advise spreading Cedar Granules throughout your outdoor space, especially in and around your garden and other known trouble spots like vulnerable grass.
In addition to the prevention methods outlined above and treating your lawn and garden monthly, removing Japanese beetles by hand is one of the most effective approaches for getting rid of these terrible pests. Granted, It’s not the quickest, but the results speak for themselves.
For best results, venture out into your lawn & garden in the early morning when Japanese beetles are known to be most active. Wearing gloves, remove any Japanese beetles you come across. Be careful not to squeeze or damage them, doing so could attract more beetles. Finally, dispose of the collected beetles by dropping them in a bucket of soapy water (2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap per 1 gallon of water).