Controlling Japanese Beetles

You won't be able to eliminate Japanese beetles forever. Instead, the trick is to learn how to manage them.
methods for controlling japanese beetles

methods for controlling japanese beetles

Japanese beetles are here to stay. You won't be able to eliminate them forever. Instead learn to manage them.

While Japanese beetles can fly in from as far away as five miles away, it is more likely any that show up in your lawn are coming from a closer distance. In either case, whatever you do on your own property is but a temporary solution to a much bigger issue.

Through a process called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the following are some methods to control adult beetles, starting with the least environmental impact method. So, with the spirit of IPM as our guide, here are the most common approaches.

Hand picking

Hand picking is easy and very effective when populations of beetles are small. Just take a jar or bucket of soapy water in hand during an early morning stroll in the garden and simply knock the pests into the container. They won't be coming back out. This daily exercise can be very productive.


Trapping involves those yellow Japanese beetle traps found at home-improvement stores and garden centers and seen in many yards and gardens. These work very well at attracting the beetles to the traps. But, the problem is they work too well. Study after study shows they attract far more beetles than they catch. Consequently, they can actually draw more beetles to your yard than if you didn't use the traps at all.

Chemical insecticides

Chemical insecticides are available that kill adult beetles (and many other insects as well). Two of the more common choices include carbaryl, found in the product Sevin, and acephate, found in Orthene. Active ingredients such as these can be found in many different product names. I've just listed two of the most common.

Unfortunately, chemical controls such as these are non-selective. A chemical is very effective in controlling pests but can kill just about any insect that comes in contact with it, including beneficials and pollinators. If you resort to these control measures, please exercise appropriate care. Be sure to apply late in the day or evening and when winds are calm to minimize the adverse impact.

A more "selective" control method against adult Japanese beetles is a systemic insecticide named imidacloprid. This active ingredient is sold under various product names, including Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect Control. This product is applied to the soil as a drench, and it is taken up through the roots. The active ingredient is not transmitted to an insect until foliage is penetrated or consumed. In this way, non-pest insects such as lady beetles and honeybees are not harmed.

Next Up

Beneficial Insects

By attracting natural predators, you can keep insect pests from destroying the plants in your garden without the use of chemicals.

Bugs, Grubs and Gophers

Follow this advice on the identification, treatment and prevention of the top three lawn pests.

Integrated Pest Management

An integrated pest management program employs the least environmentally toxic pest controls first before any chemical is used. Learn how to incorporate an IPM program in your garden.

Identifying and Dealing with Problem Insects

Gardeners often play detective when figuring out what's chewing holes or causing yellow or brown spots on favorite plants. Here are some clues to help solve common garden mysteries, as well as tips for dealing with pests.

Diseases, Insects and Animals

These three things constantly threaten gardens. Here are some effective tactics for keeping these threats at bay.

Controlling Pests and Diseases on Pea Plants

Protect and maintain pea plants by taking a few simple, effective steps.

Fertilizers, Pests and Harvesting Techniques for Squash

Once squash starts to emerge, maximize the output of your plants -- and protect them from predators -- with these easy tips.

Growing and Harvesting Kohlrabi, Yardlong Beans and White Eggplant

Here are some growing tips and harvesting hints to help maximize the yield of kohlrabi, yardlong-bean and white-eggplant crops.

Shade-Tolerant Plants

Check out 11 shade-tolerant plants and the planting information for each zone.

Grow Healthy Cucumbers

Learn how to successfully plant and grow bush cucumbers, then discover the best ways to protect your cucumber plants from potential predators.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.