Controlling Japanese Beetles

— Written By Donna Teasley and last updated by
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The Japanese beetle is native to Japan and was first seen in this country in 1916 in New Jersey. It is considered to be a major pest of the eastern United States. It is certainly considered a major pest in Burke County. We start seeing the Japanese beetle around the middle of June and it remains a pest throughout much of the summer.

Japanese  beetles feed only in the day time and are most active on hot, sunny days. They feed on hundreds of different plants and can defoliate a plant in one day. It is not unusual for a single plant to have dozens of beetles clustered on to its leaves.

Spraying can be a very effective control for our area as long as the proper chemical is sprayed. Read the labels of your insecticides to see which are listed for Japanese beetles. Repeat applications are necessary because the Japanese beetle must eat the poison, so sufficient quantities must be present.

Many folks use the Japanese beetle trap. It can be effective, but only when it is used properly. It is called a trap and this is exactly what it does-trap the beetle when it flies toward what it thinks is either a food source or other Japanese beetles. Attractant lures are attached to the trap.

The major mistake that many people make is in the placement of the trap. The trap should be placed away from plants that can be damaged by Japanese beetles. Remember that the beetles are following a scent and they do not care whether that smell is coming from the trap or from an actual plant. The traps should be emptied every day because the smell of decaying beetles will keep others from coming around.

The Japanese beetle adult lays its eggs just below the surface of the soil. These eggs hatch into grubs in mid-August. They can cause damage to your grass by damaging roots and by attracting moles who think they are a yummy source of food.

Grubs may be controlled two times each year by using granular insecticides recommended for grubs. This is a very effective method when used at the proper time. Products containing imidicloprid should be applied from late July through early August to prevent eggs from hatching. Products containing trichlorfon can be applied from mid-August through late October to kill newly hatched grubs. You must use the correct pesticide at the right time of year. One is preventive and the other is curative

One important thing to remember is that if you try to get rid of your grubs but your neighbor does not, you may not have improved your situation very much. Japanese beetles are a fact of life in southern gardens but with proper maintenance they can be controlled to a manageable level.