There are intruders in West Virginia, and we aim to get rid of them! Japanese Beetles have invaded the growing space, the rose bushes, and my life. They are not welcome, but don’t seem to care.  They have arrived and are hungry, as seen by the damage in their wake. Japanese Beetles… will they end my season?

Japanese Beetles on a grape leaf

Japanese Beetles on a grape leaf

The first thing I did was runs to the big box store and grab a handful of beetle traps, hang them up, and wait for morning to check them. A few, not many were caught in the first 18 hours. Then I started looking online for answers. Guess what? Those traps end up attracting more than they catch! They are really not a great idea in the growing area at all. So, I will be moving them about 500 yards away from the vegetables and fruit trees and see if that helps.


Common Japanese Beetle Trap… installed on a tree. This is NOT where you want to place these traps. Put them about 500 yards from your growing area.

The earth and bee friendly things that do work include hand picking ( uhhh, no…) parasitic nematodes, Neem Oil (to a very lesser extent), and using a drop cloth to collect them in drowning them in a bucket of soapy water. I also found a recommendation of using  a mix of 2 Tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in 1 gallon of water to spray up to 1,000 square feet to help control them, although that seems to be more for the larva then the adult beetle.


The skeletal remains of a leaf on the leaf with a few JB finishing it off before moving on.

Another way to control them is to use poultry. Chickens, Ducks, and Guineas are great ways to control the Japanese Beetle population. I have been told that garden duck are a great way to control pests in the garden and that they don’t really bother the produce that is growing. They just love the bugs.  While I will be ordering some, it is most likely too late for this season to help with this issue, but I will be ready next year.

These pests have take a awhile to get to the adult stage and understanding them will help you to defeat your enemy. I have learned that Japanese Beetles lay their eggs in June, in the soil. They hatch and stay buried in the grass, going deeper as the weather cools. They feed on the root systems of the grass and plants until they develop into a beetle and launch out in the spring into the world to eat as much as they can. By using the dish soap mixture as a spray on the grassy areas during the summer and fall you can draw them to the surface for the birds to eat before they develop. It need to spray the area weekly to be successful. While Neem Oil might show some limited success, DE around plants is reported to offer better results.

I am going with nematodes and poultry! While there is going to be extensive damage this year, I can do a lot to prevent this from occurring next year. I doubt I get them all, but with my new ducks and guineas this fall following the nematode release within the next few days, we should be a healthy, happy growing space once again.

Happy Growing!

~BethAnn from WV Veterans to Agriculture