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21 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

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21 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Among the pests that attack and feed on plants are Japanese beetles. Damage can be extensive as they usually eat in groups, feeding on the flowers, fruits, and leaves of a variety of plants.

Adult Japanese beetles are most active from late June through August [1]. During this time, they feed on the foliage and fruits of plants while their grubs attack the roots. Therefore, it is vital that you get rid of them quickly.

Below, we’ve gathered some of the best home remedies and organic control methods to keep away these destructive plant pests.

Here’s how to get rid of Japanese beetles naturally:

1. Pick Them Off 

This method can be time-consuming and tedious. However, it’s one of the most cost-effective methods of controlling Japanese beetles.

So pick them off and throw them into a container with soap and water to suffocate and die.

2. Neem Oil

Extracted from the seeds of the neem tree, neem oil is a common organic pesticide used by organic farmers worldwide.

To use neem oil for Japanese beetles, combine 2 tablespoons of neem oil and a teaspoon of liquid soap with a gallon of water.

Shake well and use it to spray your plants. This homemade solution will kill the beetles and their larvae.

Use it to keep Japanese beetles off your roses, hibiscus, grape vines, and vegetable plants.

3. Row Covers

Row covers help prevent insect pests from getting access to your crops.

Following the installation manual, fix row covers over your crops using plastic hoops or wooden frames for support. Secure the edges to keep the beetles off your plants.

4. Beneficial Nematodes

Steinernema glaseri and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematodes are natural predators of Japanese beetle grubs [2]. They get into the bodies of the grubs and kill them within a day or two.

Disperse these nematodes into the soil using a watering can. The best time to apply is early in the morning or evening when the sun is down.

Also, moist conditions provide a conducive environment for beneficial nematodes to thrive. So, it’s advisable to sprinkle enough water into the garden before and after the application.

5. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

One of the best natural Japanese beetle killers, diatomaceous earth, causes the beetles to die from dehydration. It does so by cutting through their protective outer shell, destroying their exoskeleton.

To use it, sprinkle it on your plants and on the garden soil around your plants. You can also use food-grade DE inside the house, sprinkled directly on the beetles when they are visible.

Alternatively, make a DIY Japanese beetle spray by combining 1 part DE with 4 parts water. Add it to a spray bottle, and use the solution to spray the pests. It will kill the pests once it dries.

6. Soap and Water 

Spraying your plants and lawn with a little organic soap and water is an excellent way to get rid of Japanese beetles organically. All you need is four to five tablespoons of organic liquid soap and a gallon of water.

Spray the beetles directly with the soapy water or pick them off and drop them into a bucket of the solution.

Soapy water will suffocate and kill the beetles instantly. This home remedy also works on the larvae.

7. Repellent Plants

The strong scent of certain plants can help keep these and other pests away from your garden.

Plants that repel Japanese beetles include marigolds, nasturtium, chives, tansy, catnip, and rue. Consider growing these in or around your garden to deter the critters.

8. Chickens and Birds

Chickens and some birds are good predators for Japanese beetles and their grubs. Invite these natural predators into your garden and yard by providing them with food and water.

9. Vacuum Them 

Every day, dedicate some time to vacuuming beetles from plants whenever you spot them. Afterward, put the vacuum’s contents in a container full of soapy water to kill the critters.

10. Cedar Oil

An excellent natural Japanese beetle repellent is cedar oil. It has a long-lasting smell that helps keep these pests away.

Combine four tablespoons of cedar oil with a gallon of water and spray it on your plants. This homemade spray also works great against June bugs.

11. Geraniums 

Japanese beetles are attracted to geraniums and will eat the blossoms. However, after eating them, they will become temporarily paralyzed.

In that state, they are left vulnerable to predators. You can also pick them off and drop them in soapy water to kill them.

12. Kaolin Clay

Kaolin clay helps keep beetles from eating leaves by creating a barrier that deters them. Our recommended brand is Surround WP.

Therefore, you can make a natural spray for Japanese beetles using Kaolin clay. For the recipe, mix 3 cups of kaolin clay with a gallon of water and a teaspoon of liquid soap.

Use the solution to spray your plants.

13. Milky Spore

Release milky Spore into your lawn according to the package instructions.

It will kill the grub stage of Japanese beetles. It won’t eliminate them entirely, but it will keep their numbers down.

14. Pyrethrin 

Pyrethrin insecticides are effective in killing Japanese beetles and other insects.

They provide a quick knockdown for the pests once they are used on them. However, avoid using it when beneficial insects and pollinators are around.

15. Beauveria bassiana

Beauveria bassiana is a naturally occurring fungus that leads to white muscardine disease in many insects [3].

Once the beetles come into contact with the fungi, they get infected. This is when you’ll notice a white coating on them. They’ll eventually die within one to two weeks.

16. DIY Trap 

Make a homemade Japanese beetle trap by adding one cup of apple cider vinegar and a cup of crushed raspberries or grapes to a bucket of water.

The fruity scent will lure in the beetles, after which they’ll fall in and die.

17. Avoid Watering the Grass

One of the most effective Japanese beetle control home remedies is to avoid excessive watering during their season. The pests are most active from late June through August or September.

During this period, watering the grass is discouraged, as moist, grassy areas provide a conducive environment for the females to lay their eggs.

18. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

Another fantastic organic treatment for Japanese beetle grubs is Bacillus thuringiensis.

Bt is toxic to grubs. After consuming it, the pests will die.

19. Drop Cloth

A drop cloth is handy for this purpose, especially in the early morning hours when the beetles are sluggish.

Spread the cloth in the garden around affected plants. Next, shake the plants to dislocate the beetles.

Finally, drop the beetles in a container with soap and water.

20. Garlic Spray

Garlic water sprayed directly on the affected plants is great for preventing the beetles from coming around.

To make a homemade Japanese beetle spray using garlic, puree five cloves in a cup of water. Next, add a teaspoon of liquid soap to the solution. Finally, strain and spray your plants.

Use the measurement as a guide for larger concoctions. The beetles will likely stay away once you apply garlic spray to your plants.

21. Parasitic Wasps

Attracting parasitic wasps to your garden can be an effective way of controlling Japanese beetle larvae. The spring Tiphia is the wasp that attacks these grubs.

See also: How to Control Black Beetles Naturally.


Japanese beetles mainly go after plants such as grapes, roses, hibiscus, dahlias, petunias, zinnias, apple trees, basil, birch, berries, shrubs, and corn. Therefore, be on the lookout and take action before an infestation begins.

Picture via commons.wikimedia.org

Sasha Brown

Sasha Brown is a blogger and lover of all things natural.

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