Combating Japanese Beetles

It's that time again - We've spotted those pesky Japanese beetles. Beginning as grubs, then pupae and now emerging from our lawns as Japanese beetles, this invasive pest is characterized by its coppery metallic wing case, black legs, and little white spots. It has been around since at least 1916 and it feeds on more than 300 kinds of plants. You will typically find the beetles on roses, grapes, hibiscus, lindens, cherries, and birches. Japanese beetles tend to skeletonize leaves, leaving the mid-ribs. How do you combat this pest?

The easiest method (and also safest for beneficial insects) is to knock them into a bucket or tub of soapy water. Japanese beetles tend to be a bit sluggish in the early morning hours. They also will drop straight down when knocked off your plants. A daily round of hitting them into a bucket can control small populations. Beetles emit a scent that attracts more beetles so by catching them early and often, you can reduce their numbers significantly.

Japanese beetle traps are available. They are a pheromone trap, so they will attract a large number of beetles from a wide area. Just be forewarned, you may attract your beetles plus the ones feeding at your neighbors.

Adult beetles prefer to lay their eggs in lush, well-watered sunny lawns so consider allowing your lawn to go dormant. The larval stage of the beetle feeds on the roots of turf grass and is vulnerable to a number of chemical applications. To treat the larvae, apply a grub treatment to your lawn in late July to August, following package directions.

Pesticides may be used to kill adult beetles, however, you need to make sure the product touches the insects. Neem oil or pyrethrins are organic broad spectrum options. There are also systemic insecticides that are applied via soil drench, but it is too late to apply them now. Systemics need to be in place six weeks in advance of the infestation.


  • Beetle damage is just cosmetic. By July, plants have stored enough reserves to make it through to the next spring. Japanese beetle feeding damage will not kill the plant.

  • Broad spectrum insecticides will kill all insects when applied, even beneficials and bees.

  • We have noticed that birds are feeding on the beetles more than ever, so you may want to hold off applying strong insecticides, such as Sevin. Plus, some products are toxic to mammals and fish. Make sure to read label directions thoroughly.

  • Do NOT apply foliage sprays when the temperatures are above 85 degrees as you may burn or scorch your plants.

Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Spring Hours

March 30-June 30

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: 11am-5pm

Memorial Day Hours

Monday, May 27


Growing for the future with
right plantsĀ in right places.