It is July and Japanese Beetles are rearing their ugly heads in the landscape. That means some of your favorite plants may be “on the menu,” as these nasty bugs eat their way through the landscape. (Fun fact: Japanese Beetles feed on more than 300 types of plants.)
What can you do to protect your plants?
One option is to hand-pick them off the plants or out of the soil and drop them into a bucket of soapy wash. Don’t squish them. (This works best when there aren’t too many.) Squishing is believed to release pheromones that will attract more Japanese Beetles. If using a soap with dyes, degreasers or fragrance (aka a detergent), be sure to dispose of it directly into a drain rather than on to soil or grass.
If you have an abundance of beetles, spraying might be a better option. Neem Oil is a natural insecticide that is effective against Japanese Beetles. It is considered “low risk” for bees, pollinators and other beneficial bugs. Neem Oil does require regular spraying to be most effective. When spraying Neem Oil (or any insecticide), be careful to avoid the blooms/flowers on the plants as this is often what attracts beneficial bugs. (Pictured: Fertilome Natural Guard Neem Oil. As with all products, always read and use according to label directions.)
Another natural insecticide that is effective against Japanese Beetles is Spinosad®, the active ingredient in Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew®. Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew® is approved for organic gardening and does not significantly impact predatory beneficial insects, predatory mites, and spiders while controlling target pests. (As with all products, always read and use according to label directions.)
Always remember…this too shall pass. Japanese Beetles are active in the landscape primarily in July and August. While your favorite landscape plant may not look as fabulous after a Japanese Beetle visit, most healthy, mature trees and shrubs will recover without long-term damage.