Prevent Japanese Beetle Damage With These Organic Pest Control Tips

Learn how to use organic pesticides and attract natural Japanese beetle predators such as the Tiphia wasp to control the Japanese beetle population in your garden.

  • Japanese Beetle

    Photo by Adobestock/Mahid
  • Japanese Beetle Illustration
    In late spring, when Japanese beetle larvae are close to the soil surface, letting wild, bug-eating birds such as robins or bluebirds work over the area can have a lasting impact.
    Illustration By Keith Ward

  • Japanese Beetle
  • Japanese Beetle Illustration

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.

Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica)

Since first being found in New Jersey in 1916, Japanese beetles have become major garden pests in eastern North America. Appearing in early summer, the coppery beetles feed on leaves of roses, grapes, beans, hops, and more than 300 other plants, including lindens and several other landscape trees. Larvae feed in lawns and weaken the grass by destroying roots. 

Organic Japanese beetle controls include repeated handpicking, poultry predation, row cover barriers, and beneficial nematodes or diatomaceous earth applied to lawn areas. Japanese beetle traps require special handling, because they can attract more beetles than would otherwise be present.

7/21/2021 4:28:18 AM

It was not my plan, but I put in a 2-3 foot section of giant Zinnias in my very small garden plot, and that's where all the Japanese beetles congregate; they've left everything else alone, so Zinnias may work nicely as a trap crop. As to killing them, I apply the old finger-thumb method and leave their squished carcass as a reminder to others. 'Tis rather disgusting, but effective.

7/20/2021 9:43:50 PM

I applied Milky Spore powder to my lawn area two years in a row (2018 and 2019). It is applied in August after the last beetles are gone. The population of beetles has decreased by over 80-90%. I also hand pick the beetles into soapy water when they are active.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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