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Lawn & Garden

Japanese Beetles Love to Eat Roses

It’s that time of year again here in the Midwest.  The Japanese beetle invasion is coming to plants near you!

A few years ago I decided to try out a Knock Out rose bush as they are virtually maintenance free, hardy and easy to grow.  I now have 7 of them in various spots of my yard.  Having never noticed a problem with beetles eating plants before, let alone grubs infesting my lawn, I was surprised one year to find these bugs all over a couple of my rose bushes.  

It turns out that Japanese Beetles “prefer” some plants over others, and that there is also a list of plants they just will not touch at all.  Roses are one plant they really like, and while an infestation of beetles may start out small, in a couple of years they can gather on a plant like the picture above, and all over it!


These little pests will chew on the leaves to the point where the plant can no longer photosynthesize and it will wither away and die.  Action needs to be taken before that happens.  While Japanese Beetles have few predators in this country, there are a variety of control methods that can be taken to get rid of enough of them so they are no longer a danger to your plants.


Here’s what I did.  First off is to deal with the bugs that are currently munching.  Grab a bucket and fill it half way with soapy water.  Use a yardstick or similar tool to knock as many of these critters off the rose and into the bucket.  You won’t get them all, but may be surprised at how many you can get into the bucket, where they will drown.  They are fairly slow and clumsy fliers.  You will likely need to repeat this process daily for the next few days.


Next is to lure loose beetles away from your plants and into a trap.  This is what I use.

Bag-A-Bug Japanese Beetle Traps

These traps are very simple.  At the top there is a set of plastic “vanes” that hold a lure in the center.  The lure is a combination of beetle pheromones and aromatics that attract Japanese Beetles to it.  Being clumsy fliers, when they strike the vane they tend to fall into the disposable plastic bag that you hang underneath.  The bag is constructed in such a way that once they fall in, they cannot get out again.  It helps to put a few pebbles in the bottom of the bag.  

I’ve caught hundreds, maybe even a couple of thousand beetles with this trap over the last few years.  Every year I get less, but after that crazy first year I have had no significant problem with my roses being eaten alive by these beetles.  One thing to pay attention to is where you hang this trap.  I put mine at the very back, (west end), of my yard and roughly 30 feet away from any plants that the beetles will want to munch on.  There is a chain link fence there that I hang the trap about 4 feet up on.  You could also use a tree branch or a shepherd’s hook as well.  The prevailing westerly breezes help spread the lures magic into my yard, rather than my neighbors, and draw beetles away from their food source and into my trap.  Now is the time, at least here in Chicago, to set up this trap.  You will probably want to replace the bag full of beetles in about a week with a new bag, again adding a few pebbles to weigh it down properly.  This really works.  I have healthy roses, and no problem with grubs either.  These traps also have no impact at all on beneficial insects, nor do they have pesticides.

What’s your favorite method of controlling these pests?



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Posted 2015-06-30T20:25:31+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI Chris_HD_CHI
When I was a pre-adolescent, we lived in an imposing Victorian house with a 25-foot grapevine arbor in the back yard. By July 4th, the vines were in full leaf and Japanese beetles had swarmed onto our vines to make green lace out of our grape leaves. It was about that time that the joy of freedom from school classes had been replaced by the boredom of dog-day heat and nothing much to do. I made the mistake of wandering into the kitchen and mentioning to my mother that I was bored. Without a moment's hesitation, she announced that she would remedy my boredom as she opened the back door and made a beeline for our detached garage. Moments later, she returned with a large tin can about one-third full of kerosene. She handed me the can with orders to go out and pick beetles off the vines and drop them into the can. I was not to stop until I could not find one more beetle. 

This method of pest control was extremely effective on two counts: It killed the beetles and it taught me never again to tell my mom that I was bored! If the Spectracide Japanese beetle trap had been invented back then, I would have saved my allowance to buy one!
Posted 2015-07-05T23:59:19+0000  by homersbuddy
Good advice Chris!

These traps use two types of lure; one is a scent and the other is hormone. Beetles can't resist these traps!

By eliminating the adult beetles, fewer eggs will be laid that produce grubs. All without pesticides!!

Placement is important since these lures attract so well. Pace them AWAY from the plants that you want to protect.

I suggest that you buy one of these traps for each of your neighbors!


Posted 2015-07-07T12:44:25+0000  by Travis_HD_ATL
Hello homersbuddy.  Welcome to the Community!

Thank you for your story.  Yes, grape vines are another of these pests' favorite foods.  I'll bet it took quite a bit of time to hand pick 25 feet of vine clean!

One other way to help control these bugs in a pesticide free way would be to attack them when they are still grubs.  This is not a timely solution for now, as the beetles have emerged and are flying around.  However, in the spring, the use of beneficial nematodes applied to areas known to have a high concentration of grubs can also work well.

Described as "naturally occurring microscopic worms with attitude", these worms come in a powder type mixture that is poured into a garden hose sprayer.  This allows you to easily spray the worms over a wide area.  The nematodes will dig into the soil looking for grubs to munch on.  Here in the Chicago area, springtime after the ground thaws but well before the grubs become beetles would be a good time to apply nematodes.  I would think that April-May would work well.  I have not tried this solution, as so far the Bag-A-Bug traps seem to be working quite well.  These nematodes will also attack other types of grubs in addition to the Japanese beetle type.



Posted 2015-07-07T16:49:06+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
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