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Japanese beetles. They come every year to destroy all of my beautiful fruit trees and garden, especially the roses. I hate them, I’ll bet you do as well. Let’s talk about “How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles Organically”.
The Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, made it’s way to the United States around 1916. Currently, Japanese beetles are established from Maine to Georgia and every other state east of the Mississippi River. The beetles are now being seen in parts of Kansas and are thought to be moving westward.
Did you know that a Japanese Beetle will fly up to 5 miles to find a feeding location? This happens when other adult beetles give off pheromones to attract other male and female beetles to their feeding ground.
We live out in the country and let me tell you something….the Japanese beetles come in droves! I mean, they aren’t messing around at my house, they invite the whole family!
Over the years, I’ve tried different organic methods of dealing with them. None have worked very well.
*Drowning them in a bucket of soapy water – The beetles love my raspberries! I’ve walked through my patch, with bucket of soapy water in one hand and knocking Japanese beetles off of raspberry canes with the other hand. It’s laughable. They seem reproduce faster than I can drown them.
*Using an organic spray made with Neem oil – This can work on many kinds of trees for pests, and I use it myself! However, not again the Japanese beetle. Won’t work.
*Japanese Beetle traps – You’ve probably seen the little bags that hang, baited with pheromones. I’ve probably caught thousands and thousands of beetles in these traps. Problem is that I’m making the problem worse by attracting MORE beetles. Geez.
*Ducks – Ducks are known to like the taste of Japanese Beetles, but I would need 1,000 ducks to make a dent out here.
What Can Be Used to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles Organically?
My answer to the Japanese Beetle problem this year is Milky Spores.
Milky Spores is a naturally occurring bacteria that kills the grubs in the ground, that would otherwise grow into adult Japanese Beetles. Milky Spores does no harm to beneficial bugs.
The good news is that with 3 applications of Milky Spores this and next Spring, summer and fall, most of the grubs in your soil will die. The bacteria spreads under the ground and does it’s work.
The bad news is that it won’t help with the adult Japanese Beetles THIS year.
However, adult beetles will NOT lay eggs where Milky Spores exists. So, it’s a bit of a delayed gratification thing, but you will take care of the problem for years by using Milky Spores.
How I Applied Milky Spores
I’ve got to be honest with you…
A #20 bag of Milky Spores costs about $55, and it covers 7.000 square feet. We have 10 acres. There is just no way I could afford, or justify, the cost of enough bags to cover our entire property.
After some thought, I decided that I would apply the granules using my seed spreader around each of my fruit trees and around the perimeters of my garden, grape vines and blackberry vines. Assuming that the bacteria spreads as the package says it will, my hope is that the Japanese beetles will leave my trees and garden alone.
How Can I Deal with the Adult Japanese Beetles This Year?
Along with applying the Milky Spores to my lawn, I plan to spray the leaves of my trees with a mixture made from Kaolin clay. It doesn’t harm any other pollinators and it irritates the beetles so they just fly away!
Japanese Beetle Spray
One quart of Surround (Kaolin clay)
1 tbsp. of dish soap
2 gallons of water
Mix up this spray and apply on trees and bushes. Re-apply every 7-21 days for 4 weeks.
What Were the Results?
Guess what happened?
Right now is the peak of Japanese beetle season, actually around the 4th of July is when they are in full force here in my area. Guess how many Japanese beetles I’ve seen?
I just couldn’t believe that the Milky Spores worked that well, and that quickly!
Thinking that perhaps the Japanese beetles had taken a wrong turn somewhere, I have been reaching out to neighbors all around my community, asking if they are seeing them.
They are! I’ve been hearing complaints of how much damage is being done to their trees and gardens!
But there are NONE in my yard! Unbelievable!
I did not use the Kaolin clay spray because I didn’t need to!
Milky Spores did wonders in my yard and it’s a fantastic organic method for ridding yourself of the Japanese beetle!