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Why Not to Use Japanese Beetle Traps and Other Tips

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Japanese beetles…the bane of my existence!  As a passionate gardener, I’m fiercely protective of my garden.   My goal in this post is to explain to you why not to use Japanese beetle traps. I will also share some natural alternatives that you can use to stop these invasive pests from destroying your garden.

There are always pests to deal with in the garden, and Japanese beetles are among the most destructive pests in the garden!

I don’t like using harsh chemicals, so I’m going to show you how to get rid of beetles naturally and WITHOUT Japanese beetle traps.

In fact, Japanese beetle traps are probably the worst thing that you can place in your garden!

Gardens are always under attack by a variety pests, critters and diseases including aphids, Japanese beetles, deer, and a variety of fungal diseases. It’s never a dull day in the garden.

But with effective measures, we can naturally and safely deal with garden pests. This includes Japanese beetles!

Every year, like clockwork, July brings the dreaded Japanese beetle to my garden. Droves of them.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, for my readers, they are mainly contained to the Eastern part of the United States (for now).

What Japanese Beetles Do

In short, they wreak havoc on your plants!  If left unchecked, they will disfigure and defoliate your plants.  

Every year they attack my hardy bananas (Musa basjoo), my 4 O’Clocks, and they love eating the flowers on my tropical hibiscus plants.

Take a look at what the typical Japanese beetle damage looks below on my 4 O’clock (Mirabilis) plants.

Japanese beetle damage on 4 O’Clocks

Take a look now at the damage on my hardy banana plant (Musa basjoo):

Japanese beetle damage on Musa basjoo

They even started to eat the leaves of my Brugmansia which are toxic!  I wonder if they will die?  They have started to skeletonize various leaves, but I put a stop to it.

They will also eat the spent tropical hibiscus flowers but sometimes I see them make holes in fresh hibiscus buds.  If you have roses, they LOVE rose buds.

I no longer have any roses in my garden because I just don’t have the patience for them anymore, so I don’t have to worry about that one at least!

How to Get Rid of Beetles Naturally

I wanted to start with what NOT to do first.  

Do NOT use those bright yellow bag Japanese beetle traps!

Why?  Because you’re basically recruiting all the Japanese beetles in your neighborhood and creating a big party for them!

You will be attracting a lot more Japanese beetles to your garden than would normally come, and not all of them will end up in the trap!  

Many of them will begin to feast in their new buffet that is YOUR garden! So avoid those silly yellow Japanese beetle traps at all cost.

Since I don’t like to use any harsh sprays unless I have to, I choose the manual approach to dealing with Japanese beetles in my garden.  

It is also the safest and most effective way.

If I’m walking through my garden and happen to see one on my plants, I simply pick it off with my bare hands, throw it on the ground and give it a good stomp.  

But, if I start to see quite a few, I use the following method:

First, I obtain a plastic cup or any other small container with no holes.

Then I will add a squirt of dishwashing soap.

Finally, I fill the cup about halfway with tap water.

Walk around the garden and flick/drag the beetles to their soapy death right in the cup (see the photograph below.)

If you are diligent, you will keep them under control, all without the usage of any harsh chemicals.  

The good part is that they will not appear all summer.  They’ll normally last 1-2 months or so.  

I am a big proponent of minimizing the impact on ourselves, our pets and the environment by using no harsh chemical sprays in our garden.

Natural Grub Control

What many people don’t realize is that if you have grubs in your lawn, they will first eat your lawn, and then grow up to be Japanese beetles!

You get two pests for the price of one!

First the grubs will eat the roots of your grass, and then they will grow up into Japanese beetles and eat the rest of your garden!  How rude.

If you have grubs, having your lawn treated for grubs will help keep your Japanese beetle population down.  

I’m not here to recommend or promote any harsh chemicals because I greatly minimize the usage in my own garden, but if your lawn has grubs, there are some great natural options for you!

One indication that you have grubs in your lawn include seeing dead patches of grass in late summer/early fall in an otherwise green lawn.

Lucky for you, I found a really great article on controlling grubs in your lawn naturally.

The post contains 10 ways to naturally stop grubs in your lawn (which will then stop them from growing up to be Japanese beetles!)

Another way to control Japanese beetles would be to simply plant things that they don’t like to eat!

Happy Japanese-beetle picking! Hopefully I’ve convinced you why not to use Japanese beetle traps. If you are diligent, you can eradicate them effectively and safely with a little persistence.

And let’s do our own part to stop promoting the usage of harsh chemicals in our gardens by choosing natural ways to stop grubs and Japanese beetles. For our Earth, our families, our children and our pets!

And if you happen to find a critter in your home and are confused over whether you have a beetle or a cockroach, check out a blog post I found that describes the differences between beetles and cockroaches.


Saturday 10th of August 2019

I am seeing them for the first time this season in Colorado. They are on my Niagara grapes. I have lived in Colorado for 30 years (planted my grapes 22 years ago) and have NEVER seen Japanese beetles in my yard until today! Thanks for the info.

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Sunday 11th of August 2019

It seems like Japanese beetles have extended their range :-( I'm so sorry to hear that because they are so destructive. Best of luck to you!


Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

When you talk about those Japanese Beetles I have give up on them. Every year they take over my Fig Bush. So I have let them have something to eat ????. But what did you say about the tip of the leaf turning dark on the Peace Lily?

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Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

They are definitely difficult pests! I'm not sure what you mean about the peace lily?