Four years ago, how to get rid of Japanese beetles was not something that I ever dreamed I would search on the internet. It didn’t occupy a single second of my mind or time. However, once we moved to our fixer-upper farmhouse, all it took was one trip out to the first garden I planted to notice them everywhere. Crazy how a rural environment can do that to you.
What’s a Japanese Beetle?
Japanese beetles are kind of pretty. Just like lots of bugs in nature, they blend into their surroundings. They’re given away though by their metallic sheen, though. Once you spot one, they’re seemingly everywhere.
And they are bad bugs, let me tell you. As in they have no redeeming features. Left to their own devices, they quickly devour leaves and leave a telltale lacy pattern in their wake. Worse yet, they like to lay eggs in your soil, so if you find them on your apple trees, the ground underneath the tree is likely the nice little incubator of future Japanese beetles. Perfect, right?
Getting Rid of Japanese Beetles Without Chemical Sprays
One of the reasons I only eat organic apples is because their non-organic counterparts are treated with all kinds of pesticides. In fact, apples are listed on the EWG site as something everyone should only buy as organically grown. Anything you grow that is treated with pesticides can find a way into your food. If you’re lucky, it’s a spray that a good washing will remove. However, a good number of pesticides are added to soil and those will just get sucked up by plants, which you will then eat. Not good, friends!
Now, an effective spray that’s safe for people and pets is neem oil. And I would totally be happy using it, except for the fact that I have honeybees. That really complicates things. Although some experts claim neem oil won’t be detrimental to the health of honeybees, professional beekeeping journals don’t recommend using it. With as much time and money I’ve spent on my bees, I just can’t risk using a seemingly safe spray and then finding two dead hives. Also, neem oil can also kill the good insects you need when you garden. Yes, there are a few good insects, believe it or not!
My Simple Method for Getting Rid of Japanese Beetles
If you don’t have honeybees, neem oil will likely be a good fit for you. It’s safe to use around pets and kids. If you still don’t feel comfortable with using it, though, no worries. You can use my solution and here’s what you’ll need to gather:
- A smaill pail or bucket
- Dishwashing liquid (I prefer Dawn)
- Gardening gloves
- Start by adding a generous squirt of dishwashing liquid to your bucket.
- Fill the small bucket or pail halfway with water. You want your water to be really soapy and you also want to easily be able to carry the bucket.
- Slip on your gardening gloves.
- With your gloved hands, knock the beetles into your soapy water to drown. It’s bad news for the beetles but good news for you and your fruits and veggies.
Is this laborious work? Yes, it is, and you’ll need to do it for about 30 minutes each morning for about a week to see the difference. Morning is best because these annoying beetles tend to hang around on plants in the morning before the fly off to irritate other garden owners. With honeybees in the mix, it really is the best way to get rid of pesky Japanese beetles without traditional and harmful garden chemicals. By depleting the beetles, you’ll also eventually be able to deplete their eggs in the soil too. So in time, the work you’ll need to do will dwindle.
What’s your secret weapon in the garden? I’d love to hear in the comments!