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Tips for Repelling Garden Pests: Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetle on Plant

To look at Japanese Beetles in the landscape, they may seem rather interesting with their bronze outer shell, maybe even harmless. They are anything but harmless!

Japanese Beetles rear their ugly heads in early July.

If you haven’t seen them yet, you will soon and Japanese Beetles cause tremendous havoc in our gardens, landscapes and lawns. First they pop out of the ground and start eating the leaves of your favorite plants. While enjoying your Rose bush or Hydrangea, during this time they are emitting pheromones that call other Japanese Beetles in the area to your house. Once they are done devastating your plants, they lay eggs in your lawn which become grubs that feed on the roots of your grass.

Are there things you can do to minimize the damage from these voracious eaters? Absolutely! Read on for some tips and tricks to help get the Japanese Beetle population under control in your garden.

Plants that are unattractive to Japanese Beetles.

Japanese Beetles enjoy munching on over 300 varieties of plants, including Roses, Hydrangeas, Apple Trees, Raspberry Bushes, Tomatoes, Peppers and more. What is left behind can be unsightly, not to mention not overly good for your garden. The time to treat for Japanese Beetles is as soon as you see them, if not sooner. One option is to plant shrubs, perennials and other plants that are not attractive to them. 

Here are some great ideas for Japanese Beetle-resistant plants.


  • Dianthus
  • Coreopsis
  • Heuchera


  • Ageratum
  • Begonia
  • Lantana
  • Snapdragon

Shrubs, Vines and Trees:

  • Redbud
  • Burning Bush
  • Boxwood
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Holly
  • Lilac
  • Clematis

Spraying or removing the beetles by hand are the best options for this year’s crop of Japanese Beetles.

If you are feeling really ambitious and don’t have too many, you can remove Japanese Beetles by hand and drop them in soapy water. 

Spraying with an insecticide is an effective way to prevent damage. To keep them under control, you will need to do repeated sprayings, making sure to get both the top and undersides of the leaves. (Follow packaging directions for frequency of spraying.)

Natural sprays like Neem Oil, Bonide Insecticidal Soap or Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew can be used on all your plants, including those peppers and tomatoes you worked so hard to grow! Many are approved for organic gardening.

Grubs could be lurking in your lawn.

Where there are grubs this year, there will be Japanese Beetles next year. If you’re a “planner” and want to control next year’s Japanese Beetles, now is a great time to put down a grub control product on your lawn. Applying Scotts GrubEx or BioAdvanced Season Long Grub Control in early July will give you a year’s worth of grub control. Again, be sure to follow package direction carefully.

If you are looking for a natural alternative, try Milky Spore. To achieve maximum control, apply in the spring, summer, and fall for 2 years. The result will provide 10 years of natural grub control.


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