Among the pests that attack and destroy plants are Japanese beetles. An infestation can annihilate an entire garden.
Japanese beetles invade in groups, devouring flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees . Getting rid of them quickly is vital as the damage can be extensive.
They are most prevalent during June, July, and August. During this time, the adults are very destructive to visible plant parts while the grubs attack the roots.
As believers and ardent supporters of organic farming, we’ve gathered some of the best ways to do away with these destructive insects while being environmentally friendly.
Here’s how to get rid of Japanese beetles naturally.
1. Pick Them Off
This method is time-consuming and tedious, but it’s considered the most productive home remedy. Hand-pick them and throw them into a container with soap and water to suffocate and drown.
2. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a byproduct of the neem tree, and it is extracted from the seeds. It has been used as an ancient-old organic pesticide throughout generations worldwide.
Add a small amount (2 tlbs) to one gallon of water and apply to crops through spraying.
It inhibits the growth of the adults and impedes the laying of eggs by interfering with their hormonal systems, making them unable to survive or multiply.
3. Row Covers
Row covers or garden fabric protects the plants from cold, strong winds, and overheating. But also, they block harmful pests from getting to the crops.
Following the installation manual, row covers are fixed over the crops using plastic hoops or wooden frames for support. The edges are then secured with staples.
4. Beneficial Nematodes
These are creatures that are natural predators for Japanese beetle grubs and pupae. They get into the grub’s body openings and the pupae and find their way to the bloodstream and kill them within 48 hours.
The nematodes can be dispersed into the soil surface using a watering can, and the best time is in the evening since they are vulnerable to UV light. Also, enough moisture provides a conducive environment for them to thrive.
Therefore, it’s advisable to sprinkle enough water into the garden before and after the application of nematodes. They have to be applied annually because they don’t multiply and accumulate in the soil.
5. Diatomaceous Earth
DE is made from fossils of aquatic organisms known as diatoms, whose skeletons are made of a natural substance known as silica. For years, sediments of diatoms have accumulated in water bodies, and that’s where silica is mined.
To use, sprinkle it on the leaves, stems, roots of the plants, and on the garden soil around. It can also be used inside the house, sprinkled directly on the beetles when they are visible.
Diatomaceous earth causes the beetles to die from dehydration resulting from fat and fluid leakage from the cuts it causes.
6. Soap and Water
Coating your plants with a concoction of soap and water is beneficial in curbing the population of most pests. It drives the larva up out of the soil to the surface of the ground where predators come to feast on them.
The soapy water method works best when the beetles are in the larval stage, and it calls for persistence in spraying until all the larvae are dead.
Four to five tablespoons of organic liquid soap to a gallon of water is the recommended ratio.
7. Companion Planting
While planting crops that are susceptible to beetle attack, consider planting together with plants that keep the pests away.
Some of the plants that repel Japanese beetles are odorless marigold, garlic, chives, catnip, and rue.
8. Fowls and Birds
Poultry and birds are good predators to adults as well as the grubs.
Attract these animals to your garden or yard by providing them with food and water. Some birds eat the adult beetles while others dig up the grubs.
9. Vacuum Them
Every day, you can dedicate some time to vacuum infested plants and put the content of the vacuum in a container full of soapy water to kill the critters.
10. Cedar Oil
Cedar oil is known to have a long-lasting smell that keeps Japanese beetles away. Combine 4 tablespoons into a gallon of water.
When sprayed on plants, its strong scent will keep off pests from destroying them.
Geraniums greatly attract Japanese beetles; however, after about thirty minutes of feeding on the petals, they lose consciousness.
In that state, predators may feed on them. If not, they can be picked and disposed of. Plant the trees around your yard.
12. Kaolin Clay
Kaolin clay, alias China clay, helps keep off insect pests by creating an irritating whitish film on leaves and fruits.
Our recommended brand is Surround WP. Mix 3 cups in a gallon of water and coat your plants. The spray can be used up until the harvesting day.
13. Milky Spore
It carries the spores of the bacteria Paenibacillus popilliae, which destroys the grub stage (larvae) of the beetle .
When milky spore is dispersed into the soil, the grub feeds on its roots, which have the bacteria. The spore then reproduces inside the host, killing it in less than a week.
After the grub decomposes, the spores revert into the soil, making the environment toxic for other harmful critters.
Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide that aims at the nervous systems of insects. However, you should avoid using it when beneficial insects and pollinators are around.
Once the insects come across it, excitement is induced, making them prone to full exposure and eventually death.
It’s used to quickly get rid of pest insect populations characterized by soft bodies and shells.
15. Beauveria bassiana
Beauveria bassiana is a fungus that leads to white muscadine disease in Japanese beetles and many other insects.
Once the beetles come into contact with the fungi, they get infected, and the fungus multiplies inside the host consuming all the nutrients while releasing the toxins.
When the host dies, it gets covered with white matter, which happens to be ineffective spores.
It’s considered advantageous because it can be used until harvesting time, as its residue is not dangerous to humans or animals.
Sold at most well-established gardening centers, Japanese beetle traps produce a scent that’s inviting to the adult bugs. Once they are trapped, you get rid of the culprits.
However, the scent attracts other critters that are not within your garden, and not all of them are likely to be captured.
17. Avoid Watering Lawn
One of the simplest home remedies is to avoid excess watering during their season. Japanese beetle season runs from June to August.
During this period, watering the grass is discouraged as moist lawns provide a conducive environment for their eggs to survive.
18. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
BT is a natural microorganism found in the soil. It produces proteins that are toxic to the larvae of pests and insects.
When the larvae consume the toxins, they die of starvation and infection; however, it is not harmful to humans.
19. Drop Cloth
A drop cloth is very useful for this purpose, especially in the early morning hours when the beetles are very active.
Spread the cloth in the garden. Once the critters are on it, shake them off in a bucket full of soap water.
20. Garlic Spray
A mixture of garlic, liquid soap, and water sprayed directly on the affected plants deter pests.
Puree 5 cloves of garlic into a cup of water. Add a teaspoon of little liquid soap to the mix. Strain and spray your plants.
Use the measurement as a guide for larger concoctions. They hate the smell of the solution, so they will not come near once it’s applied.
21. Parasitic Wasps
Attracting the native parasitic wasps in your garden can be an effective way of controlling the larvae’s population. Even so, parasitic wasps are not effective when it comes to handling high numbers of pests.
The critters mainly go after plants such as roses, dahlias, petunias, zinnias, apple trees, basil, birch, berries, shrubs, and corn. The natural methods listed here have no negative effects on the environment.
They are budget-friendly — you don’t have to break a bank to afford them because many of the materials are available in your home. And best of all, they are healthy.
The food we consume constitutes our health. Using natural pest control techniques is an assurance that what we are consuming is healthy, and as we say, health is the greatest wealth.